Saturday, Jun 22, 2024

AG Holder Ignoring Appeals from Congress in Rubashkin Case

A letter to Attorney General Eric Holder by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) this week pressed Holder on the Rubashkin case after close to 40 Congressional appeals to open an investigation into allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct have gone unheeded. Rep. Poe's letter asks Holder if the Department of Justice has done anything about launching an investigating into the allegations of improper communications between Chief Judge Linda Reade and government authorities who prosecuted Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin. The letter is the second one the congressman has written urging a review of the case. In November, Rep. Poe, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and is a former prosecutor and judge, called Holder's attention to “serious allegations of misconduct by the Judge and U.S. Attorneys in this case."

He cited evidence of detailed ex parte discussions between Judge Reade and U.S. Attorney in the six months leading up to the raid that were not disclosed during the Rubashkin trial. The letter also chided the Attorney General for shrugging off the many inquiries into the case by concerned congressmen.


“So far, all requests for an investigation have been referred to the [Iowa] Attorney’s Office…the very office that allegedly took part in the ex parte meetings before the raid,” Poe’s letter protested.


Congressman Poe Refuses to Back Off


Rep. Poe was one of the galvanizing forces behind a landmark congressional hearing this past August on the problem of overcriminalization plaguing the nation. At this hearing, he raised the profile of the Rubashkin case by citing the government’s overkill in invoking an obscure law to incarcerate Sholom Mordechai as an example of prosecutorial excess.


A growing array of congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans, have condemned the unethical conduct of Judge Reade and the federal prosecutors who, the evidence shows, worked hand in hand in prosecuting and convicting Sholom Mordechai.


Thus far, Holder has not responded to any of the letters directly. A stock reply signed by a subordinate informs the concerned congressmen petitioning Holder that “legal and ethical considerations preclude us from discussing issues currently being litigated.”

Coming at the same time as the filing of hard-hitting amicus curiae briefs supporting Sholom Mordechai’s right to a new trial, Rep. Poe’s second letter pressing Holder for answers suggests he has no intention of being brushed off.


Rep. Jerrold Nadler: “U.S. Lawyers Violated Rules”


Adding a powerful voice to the growing chorus of congressional appeals for Holder’s intervention in the case, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) wrote to the Attorney General last week that “serious issues of potential misconduct or improper Department policy…demand your careful review, consideration, and, where appropriate, remedial action.”


The NY congressman minced no words in denouncing government authorities for not abiding by the laws guaranteeing a defendant a fair trial. “I conclude that U.S. lawyers violated rules governing ex parte contact with the judge who presided at the trial,” he asserted.


“As the Ranking Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, I believe it is important that the Department of Justice respects the rights of persons in its custody and persons accused of crimes,” Nadler wrote.


U.S.Attorney Rose: “The Goal Was to Punish Rubashkin”


The Nadler letter raised a serious issue that has largely gone unnoticed: the government’s sentencing of Sholom Mordechai to prison over immigration charges that were never presented at trial and never heard by a jury.


Nadler quoted U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose of Iowa who inadvertently revealed the government’s animus against Sholom Mordechai in a December interview with an Iowa-based paper, The Gazette. The interview discussed the government’s immigration raid on Agriprocessors and the criminal prosecutions that followed.


Nadler cited comments by Rose that he found very troubling. “The goal of this case was to prevent future crimes like this, as well as to punish Rubashkin,” Rose said in the interview. “This case was important for those that are taking advantage of and employing illegal immigrants…”


The problem with punishing Rubashkin for “crimes like this,” writes Nadler, is that “[n]either the law nor Department policy permit an individual to be sentenced for an offense that was neither charged nor decided by the jury.”


Nadler wants to know why Sholom Mordechai was sentenced to over a quarter of a century in jail over immigration charges for which he was never tried.


Following his conviction for bank fraud, all ninety or so immigration-related charges against him were dropped. And in the state labor trial which brought up the far more serious charges of exploitation and mistreatment of minors, Sholom Mordechai was totally acquitted.


Yet, here is the respected Iowa U.S. Attorney –a year after a jury declared Sholom Mordechai innocent – blandly asserting that he needed to be punished “to prevent future crimes like this.”


Despite his acquittal on child labor counts, and despite the fact that the government dropped all other immigration charges against him, Rose still insists on his guilt. In publicizing these sentiments, she betrays an abiding prejudice against Sholom Mordechai that explains the travesty of justice her office has engineered.


Rose Laments “Misinformation” Campaign By Rubashkin Supporters


Rose admitted in the Gazette interview that her office has taken heavy flak for its handling of the Rubashkin case. “She said the Rubashkin case was frustrating for her because his conviction and wrongdoing were overshadowed by accusations of wrongful prosecution,” the article noted. “The defense put out many facts that were not accurate and any attempt we made to tell the truth … it just didn’t help, so we stopped,” Rose said. [Translation:“We had no way to refute the allegations,so we dug in and prayed the whole thing would just die down.”]


One is reminded of the instance Stephanie Rose chose to break her silence in order to set the record straight. This was in a June 2010 open letter published in theDes Moines Register and quickly leaked to leading newswires.


Lewin-Cook Letter Challenged Rose to Public Debate


Sholom Mordechai’s attorneys, Nathan Lewin and Guy Cook, responded to Rose’s lame excuses and fabrications in a scathing rebuttal, challenging the U.S. Attorney to a public debate:


“U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose has decided that ‘silence is no longer in order’ and has opted to defend her prosecution of Sholom Rubashkin in an open letter, Lewin and co-counsel Guy Cook wrote.


“Rose has opened the propriety of her conduct to discussion in the media, particularly since her letter makes many assertions that are false and were never proved or tested in court.


“We now challenge US Attorney Rose to debate Mr. Lewin on the propriety of the prosecution in a public session, hopefully televised, in Des Moines at a mutually agreeable date with a mutually agreed moderator.


“Since we are not sure she will accept this challenge, we will highlight in this response a few errors in her published defense.”


The Lewin-Cook article went on to challenge Rose’s laments about being maligned by “vicious and false” accusations.


“Ms. Rose claims that the accusations against her office are “vicious and false” and “ill-informed.” But there are many critical accusations that she has failed to answer.


· Wasn’t Mr. Rubashkin handcuffed and arrested in October 2008 only to generate national publicity? He had stayed in Postville for almost six months after being notified that he was a “target” of the federal investigation. When a suspect has made no attempt to flee over a lengthy period, the routine procedure is to tell the defendant’s lawyer to bring the client in to plead to the charge.


· Why was Mr. Rubashkin imprisoned for 76 days before trial on the Office’s bogus claim that he would flee to Israel under Israel’s “Law of Return?”


· Why were the charges against Mr. Rubashkin deliberately multiplied by the Office through an unprecedented seven superseding indictments that fragmented one immigration charge and one bank fraud charge into a total of 163 counts? Wasn’t this to impress the media, the public, and the jury?


· Why was a 1921 law that has never in U.S. history been used for criminal prosecution added to the bank fraud counts?


· Why did the Attorney’s Office prevent sale of the Agriprocessors business to any purchaser who might employ any member of the Rubashkin family in a managerial capacity, thereby making a sale of the business – which needed expertise in the kosher meat industry – virtually impossible?


Needless to say, U.S Attorney Rose never responded to the Lewin-Cook offer of public debate. As she told the Gazette interviewer, “Any attempt we made to tell the truth … it just didn’t help, so we stopped.”


Sholom Mordechai, in his appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, has asked for a court-ordered evidentiary hearing to discover the deeper story behind the government’s conduct and tactics in this sordid story. Since “telling the truth” is obviously important to Rose, she ought to welcome an opportunity to do so under oath.




Walking the Walk Have you ever had the experience of recognizing someone in the distance simply by the way they walk? I have, many times.

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