European rabbis: Rubashkin sentence 'sinister'
The Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) has expressed shock and outrage at the sentencing of Sholom Rubashkin, former chief executive officer and vice president at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse and meat packing plant, to 27 years in prison for financial fraud.
Rubashkin was also ordered to pay $27 million in restitution by Chief US District Court Judge Linda R. Reade.
The RCE is an organization dedicated to meeting the religious and spiritual needs of Jewish communities in Europe.
“This is a blatant imbalance of justice,” said Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Lichtenstein, Head of the Federation of Synagogues Rabbinical Court in London and member Presidium of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe.
“The doctrine of proportionality in sentencing seeks to limit arbitrary and capricious punishment in order to ensure that offenders are punished according to their ‘just desert’, and this is light years away from proportional sentencing.”
Rubashkin oversaw the plant in Postville, Iowa, that gained attention in 2008 after a large-scale immigration raid in which authorities detained 389 illegal immigrants. The plant eventually filed for bankruptcy and was later sold.
After an investigation by a court-appointed trustee, prosecutors alleged Rubashkin intentionally deceived the company's lender and directed employees to create fake invoices in order to show St. Louis-based First Bank the plant had more money flowing in than it did. Cook tried to portray Rubashkin as a bumbling businessman who never even read the loan agreement with First Bank.
Rubashkin also faced 72 charges for allegedly allowing illegal immigrants to work at the plant but Reade dismissed those charges and a jury acquitted Rubashkin of state child labor charges earlier this month.
The RCE, and many other supporters in the Jewish community, felt that Rubashkin was already being singled out for special and undue attention when there was an attempt to deny bail on the grounds that the defendant could flee to Israel.
“Already at the bail stage we saw an outrageous bias against Rubashkin because he was a religious Jew,” added Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, rabbi of the Mill Hill Synagogue in London. “This sentence merely compounds our earlier fears and smacks of sinister intent and utterly undermines the very foundations of fair justice for all upon which the United States of America has always taken immense pride.”
The RCE said it fully supports Rubaskin’s appeal and called upon the American judicial system to save itself from this grave inequity of justice and to allow for common sense and righteousness to prevail.