Seeking release, Rubashkin says he’s ‘never ran away from a fight’
Trish Mehaffey • The Gazette
Sholom Rubashkin says he had no intention of fleeing the county and leaving his family and the Jewish community while he awaits a federal trial on immigration charges stemming the May 2008 raid at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville.
“I’m man enough to stay,” he said. “I never thought about leaving and have never ran away from a fight.”
Rubashkin, 50, testified today at a detention hearing in a federal courtroom in Cedar Rapids. He is seeking to be released on bail pending his trial on 72 immigration charges.
Rubashkin was convicted last week by a Sioux Falls, S.D., jury of 86 charges that included bank, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering. He faces a prison sentence of hundreds of years.
U.S. District Judge Linda Reade will decide on Rubashkin’s request sometime in the future.
Guy Cook, Rubashkin’s attorney, argued Rubashkin had public figure status now and there’s nowhere he could hide without being recognized. He gained national support and attention during his trial from the Jewish community in New York and around the world.
“All the Jewish community is watching,” Cook said.
Cook submitted to the court over 1,300 letters and emails of support for Rubashkin’s release. He also submitted six letters from prominent rabbis who are willing to put up their sacred Torah scrolls as collateral for his bail.
Others also are willing to put up more than $7 million in equity on their homes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Pete Deegan argued that Rubashkin committed bank fraud after his first pretrial release last year. According to testimony in the financial trial, Rubashkin asked an employee for a thumb drive containing financial records and diverted funds into a separate account to keep hidden from the bank, which held a revolving loan on the company.
During Rubashkin’s testimony today, Deegan asked him about diverting funds but he denied it. He said as he did at trial that two other managers, who pleaded guilty for their part in the alleged scheme, asked him to do it and he didn’t know he was doing anything wrong.
Deegan at one point asked him to tell the truth and Rubashkin shot back, “Does that work both ways – I tell the truth and you tell the truth.”
Rubashkin wouldn’t answer all of Deegan’s questions. When Deegan asked him if he lied under oath in the trial he refused to answer and Reade said she wouldn’t require him to.
Deegan asked the court to deny bail because Rubashkin has a greater motive now to flee than before his trial. Now, he’s been convicted and faces many years in prison.
“As you saw here today in his testimony that he will say whatever suits him at the moment,” Deegan said.
[Hat Tip: FGBA.]
UPDATE 4:10 pm CST – Here's the Courier's report:
Rubashkin testifies in bail hearing
By JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD • Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
CEDAR RAPIDS - A combative Sholom Rubashkin took the stand Wednesday to argue for his release on bail until the conclusion of his upcoming immigration trial.
U.S District Judge Linda Reade is expected to make a decision in the next few days.
Assitant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan repeatedly pressed Rubashkin to admit he committed bank fraud, but the former Agriprocessors vice president would not budge.
Deegan began addressing Rubashkin with a pointed "sir," and at one point asked the judge to direct Rubashkin to answer his questions.
Rubashkin, who entered the courtroom in chains wearing an orange jumpsuit, yarmulke atop his head and tassels at his sides, denied prior testimony given by his former employees at the kosher meat plant in Postville, and appeared to contradict his testimony from a financial fraud trial.
"How do you want me to answer a question like that?" said Rubashkin, when asked if he committed bank fraud.
"Sir, your credibility is at issue. We're trying to determine if you lied on the stand," Deegan replied.
Rubashkin's attorneys present more than 1,300 letters and e-mails of support, 43 homes worth more than $7 million offered as collateral from supporters, and letters from six rabbis who offered their Torahs in exchange for Rubashkin's release.
Defense attorney Guy Cook argued Rubashkin would bring shame to the entire Jewish community worldwide if he were to flee.
Last week, Rubashkin was found guilty on 86 counts of financial fraud. His attorneys said they will appeal the decision. On Dec. 2, he will face a second trial in Sioux Falls, S.D., 72 immigration charges.