Former Agriprocessors manager wants trial moved

by MEAT&POULTRY Staff
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DES MOINES, IOWA — Sholom Rubashkin, the former manager of the Agriprocessors Inc., Postville, Iowa, packing plant, wants his federal trial moved from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Minneapolis or Chicago because of pretrial publicity, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Rubashkin made this request in a motion filed Jan. 29 in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids.

Mr. Rubashkin faces numerous immigration charges, along with bank-fraud and money-laundering charges. He was first arrested in November.

His lawyer said media reports have mistakenly labeled Mr. Rubashkin as the plant's chief executive officer. In court records, lawyer Guy Cook said Mr. Rubashkin never had "the type of control the pretrial publicity suggests."

"The pretrial publicity has left the impression that Defendant Rubashkin was the former-c.e.o. of Agriprocessors and the mastermind behind all the bad that befell Agriprocessors employees, Agriprocessors finances and the town of Postville," the motion said.

On Jan. 28, Mr. Rubashkin was released from the Dubuque County jail after a judge agreed to set bail at $500,000. In addition to bail, he must wear an electronic monitoring device.

Charges against Mr. Rubashkin and others followed a May 12 immigration raid at the plant, at that time the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse, that resulted in the arrest of 389 people. Besides the federal charges against him, Agriprocessors and top managers have been accused of violating state and federal laws dealing with child labor, wage requirements and safety rules. The company also has filed for bankruptcy protection.

The ruling earlier this week by U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade to release Mr. Rubashkin overturns an earlier decision by Magistrate Jon Scoles, who ruled that Mr. Rubashkin was a flight risk.

Mr. Rubashkin's attorney, in court records seeking a change of venue, argued that the "immediate and long-standing publicity" generated by the May immigration raid at the plant "has essentially focused on one man — Defendant Sholom Rubashkin."

"Even where the pretrial publicity does not place blame on Defendant Rubashkin, the continued publicity and the correlation of the Defendant with Agriprocessors has left observers and potential jurors to conclude he is at fault for the ills facing the company and the community," the motion said.

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