Originally posted at 09:29 pm CDT on 9-17-2013. Last update at 3:08 pm CDT 9-18-2013.
Rubashkin Lawyers And Family Allegedly Contact Trial Jurors Without Permission, Causing Furor
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Private investigators working for former Agriprocessors vice president Sholom Rubashkin have been caught contacting jurors from Rubashkin’s 2009 bank fraud case trial without permission, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported.
Acting U.S. Attorney Sean Berry filed a motion Friday in federal court Rubashkin and his attorneys to show cause why they shouldn’t be found in contempt of court.
Court rules prohibit defendants and attorneys from questioning jurors during or after a trial concerning actual jury service without the consent of the trial judge.
Rubashkin was convicted in 2009 on 86 federal counts of bank, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failure to pay livestock providers in a timely manner. Rubashkin was sentenced in 2010 to 25 years in federal prison plus an extra 2 years for blatantly perjuring himself in court.
In May 2008, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided Rubashkin’s Agriprocessors glatt kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. Almost 400 undocumented workers were arrested and charged. Another 300 to 400 escaped arrest because they were not at the plant when the raid took place. It was then the largest immigration raid in US history.
A hearing on the government’s new motion was set by Rubashkin’s trial judge, U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade, for this coming Friday. However, Rubashkin’s Des Moines-based attorney Paul Rosenberg filed for a continuance Tuesday because of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which begins Wednesday night and which prevents Rubashkin from participating in a hearing on September 20, 26 and 27.
The government did not oppose Rubashkin’s motion to reschedule, and a new hearing has now been scheduled for Monday. Rubashkin's attorneys are required to attend. Rubashkin will attend via telephone hookup from Otisville prison in New York State.
Rubashkin’s former lead counsel, Guy Cook, is now the president Iowa State Bar Association. Cook said the hearing will allow Rubashkin to present evidence in support of his position.
“Here, the defendant believes the prohibition of contact was lifted by the court following the verdict, permitting jurors to talk with anyone or no one,” Cook reportedly said . Cook did not account for why his remarks appear to fly in the face of actual court rules and long-standing practice.
Judge Reade filed an order Monday that was sent out to jurors from Rubashkin’s trial telling them that she did not give permission to Rubashkin or his attorneys to contact them. However, they may choose to talk to Rubashkin’s representative if they so desire.
According to the government’s motion filed last week, a former Rubashkin juror called the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cedar Rapids last Thursday and reported that he had been contacted on September 10 by a private investigator who said that he wanted to speak with jurors from the Rubashkin case. The juror told the investigator that he had nothing to say to him and then called the US Attorney.
The next day, a different man and a woman came to his home uninvited. The man identified himself as a representative with Guidepost Solutions, a private investigation firm based in New York. He introduced the woman as Rubashkin’s daughter. Rubashkin’s daughter started to plead with the juror, telling him “in an emotional manner” about her father’s long prison sentence. She asked the juror to help rectify that, telling the juror that Rubashkin’s final appeal option’s deadline was rapidly approaching. The juror was allegedly asked about a “matter he may have seen” while serving on the jury. The juror refused to talk to them.
The government’s motion reportedly says the juror told an assistant U.S. Attorney that the incident was “weird” and “scared his children,” causing the juror to call the US Attorney’s office and report it. The juror reportedly also said that he has remained in contact with other jurors from the Rubashkin trial and that several of them had told him that they had been contacted by Rubashkin’s private investigators.
The acting US Attorney reportedly noted in the motion he was contacted on August 5 by Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Scott Green who said that he had been approached by a private investigator named Kevin Dill. Dill allegedly asked Green about his knowledge of matters related to the Rubashkin case and told him that he was working for a New York law firm on the “Rubashkin 2255” motion.
A 28 U.S.C 2255 is a motion to vacate, set aside or correct a sentence. Rarely successful, a 28 U.S.C 2255 motion can seek to show that the sentence was in violation of their constitutional rights, that the court lacked jurisdiction to impose the sentence, or that the sentence was longer than the maximum penalty authorized by law, or is in another way subject to collateral attack. The prisoner can move the court which handed down that sentence asking it to vacate, set aside or correct it.
All of Rubashkin’s previous appeals have been rejected, including his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in October of last year.
Rubashkin defrauded his lenders of more than $26 million dollars and participated in what some call the looting of Agriprocessors, taking at least $1.5 million of that money for his personal use.
He and Agriprocessors also allegedly shorted employees’ paychecks over a period of more than a decade, stealing millions from the undocumented workers who had no recourse.
The safety, animal welfare and environmental abuses at Agriprocessors were epic, causing scandal after scandal in the years leading up to Rubashkin’s arrest.
Agriprocessors was founded by Rubashkin’s father Aaron, who remained the sole shareholder of the corporation until it went into bankruptcy after his son’s 2008 arrest and was eventually sold.
[Hat Tip: state of disgust.]