A pro-Sholom Rubashkin propaganda film is in the works, as we reported previously. A trailer for the film has just been posted online, it plays like a propaganda film from the old Soviet Union. It is completely one-sided. It misrepresents what Rubashkin actually did and what he was convicted of doing.
The trailer also misrepresents the sentencing guidelines – which the judge followed – and never once mentions any of the ancillary crimes Rubashkin committed – like obstruction of justice, hiding evidence from the government, refusing to repay any of the money he stole, etc. And it cravenly makes use of legitimate activists who are working to have the sentencing guidelines restructured without ever telling viewers that Rubashkin attorneys and associates refused to make those sentencing guidelines an issue in any of the appeals they have filed. But when you have millions of dollars – much of them stolen and the rest gifted by naive people concerned with Rubashkin's sentence – you can make films that have no semblance of balance or truth. And because there is no counter-film that deals with what Rubashkin actually did, these lies and misrepresentations will stand as a record of what happened.
The truth is that Sholom Rubashkin and his family, including his father, engaged in a conspiracy to defraud their lenders.
The Rubashkin's made it appear as if they had far more salable inventory and accounts receivable than was really case. They faked purchase orders and laundered money through Chabad charities Sholom Rubashkin controlled to carry out the scheme.
But that was by far not the only crimes the Rubashkins were involved with.
Their kosher meat company, Agriprocessors, had about 1000 employees at its peak. An estimate 75% of those were undocumented workers, most knowingly brought in by the Rubashkins and paid wages that were less than what documented workers were paid. They maintained separate payrolls for the illegals and tried to hide as much of what they were doing as possible.
When Sholom Rubashkin did not respond to repeated requests from the government to account for Social Security numbers that did not match employees names, the government had finally had enough of the rampant OSHA violations, EPA violations, labor law violations, Humane Slaughter violations, and the mostly illegal workforce.
And it raided Agriprocessors in May 2008, arresting almost 400 undocumented workers. (The raid was conducted during a shift, not at shift change, which limited the number arrests.)
During the raid, the government found clear evidence of Agriprocessors actively participating in document fraud. It also found a slew of underage workers.
The State of Iowa tried Sholom Rubashkin on child labor charges. But even though it proved that children worked in the plant, Rubashkin was not convicted because the law required proof that the manager or CEO knew the children were employed, and the judge would not allow those federal "no match" letters to be introduced at trial. The letters would have proved that Rubashkin knew many of his employees were using fake or stolen IDs. Agriprocessors was guilty of employing child labor. But Rubashkin was able to walk free. Disgusted, the State of Iowa changed the law soon after Rubashkin was acquitted so that another manager would not be able to claim that he didn't know, when it was absolutely clear that he had every opportunity and responsibility to know.
When Rubashkin was arrested and released on bail in the Fall of 2008, he used his time out jail to destroy or hide evidence against him. He also engaged in other forms of obstruction of justice and tried to hide his assets.
He completely refused to cooperate with the investigation. He would not give the government evidence against his father, brothers and other co-conspirators. He perjured himself to federal agents and he perjured himself at trial.
During the trial, he expressed no real remorse and he refused to repay any of the money he stole from his lenders – $1.5 million of which ended up in his personal bank account.
Sholom Rubashkin's name and signatures were on the documents that constituted the fraud, and he was – on paper, at least – in charge of the conspiracy, which saw several low level Agriprocessors support staff and managers convicted. But even though it was clear that Sholom's father and brothers had played important roles in the thefts and some of the other federal crimes, they were not charged. Only Sholom Rubashkin's name was on those documents. He was one who was, on paper, in charge. And his refusal to cooperate with federal investigators and to give evidence and testimony against his father and brothers meant that there was not enough hard evidence to charge them. And so they walk free. Sholom Rubashkin does not.
Sholom Rubashkin turned down two plea offers (I was the first to report them both). One was for 15 years, the other for 12.
As I've written many times that Sholom Rubashkin's sentence is too long. But, unfortunately, falls in low-middle of the sentencing guideline for what Rubashkin was convicted of – even if he was overcharged, because the sentence is based primarily of the amount of loss. (The amount of loss could have been reduced if the Rubashkins had repaid some of the money. But they didn't.)
The sentencing guidelines do need to be reformed. Unfortunately, that is not the case Rubashkin's lawyers have made.
And now, after this abridged recounting of Sholom Rubashin's crimes, the propaganda film's trailer: