Rubashkin Granted Bail in Iowa

By Nathaniel Popper

Published January 28, 2009, issue of February 06, 2009.

A federal judge has ruled that Sholom Rubashkin, former CEO of the embattled kosher meat giant Agriprocessors, should be released from jail on bail after Orthodox rabbis staged a campaign on his behalf.

Judge Linda Reade of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa ordered Rubashkin’s release January 29, on the condition that he surrender his birth certificate and his family’s passports. The decision came after two days of hearings in which prominent Orthodox rabbis testified on Rubashkin’s behalf.

Rubashkin has been in a Dubuque, Iowa, jail since last November, when he was arrested on bank fraud charges. During his time in jail, Rubashkin was hit with a 99-count federal criminal indictment. These charges stem mostly from a massive immigration raid in May 2008, in which nearly 400 Agriprocessors employees were arrested.

A magistrate judge initially rejected Rubashkin’s request for release, citing evidence brought by federal prosecutors that Rubashkin might try to flee to Israel and gain citizenship there through the Law of Return. That reference has engendered opposition from Jewish communal organizations.

Federal prosecutors had continued to oppose Rubashkin’s release, pointing to thousands of dollars in cash that were found in Rubashkin’s house when he was arrested.

Reade ruled that Rubashkin should be released as long as measures are taken to ensure that he stays in Iowa until his trial, which is set to begin in September. While Rubashkin will be restricted to the area around Postville, the location of the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse, he will not be allowed to enter the company grounds.

After the hearing, Rubashkin’s lawyer, Guy Cook, said that “justice has prevailed today.”

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