Federal prosecutors in Iowa have backed off their push for a life sentence for Sholom Rubashkin, the slaughterhouse manager who was convicted last year on charges that included money laundering and bank fraud.
The 25-year sentence the prosecution recommended this week, during Rubashkin’s sentencing hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, is tantamount to a life sentence, a lawyer for Rubashkin said today.
“It’s a step in the right direction but for all practical purposes it’s still a life request,” said Grefe & Sidney partner Guy Cook of Des Moines. Cook, a lead trial attorney for Rubashkin, 51, said no more than a six year sentence is just punishment. Rubaskin, convicted of a non-violent crime, is a first-time offender.
More than 20 witnesses testified in support of Rubashkin over the two-day hearing, which wrapped up yesterday. Chief Judge Linda Reade, who presided over Rubashkin’s trial last October and November, is expected to announce sentencing May 27. Click here and here for earlier coverage of the case from The National Law Journal.
Rubashkin, jailed since the jury’s guilty verdicts in November on 86 counts of financial and related charges, appeared in court Thursday in orange jail garb, his wrists and legs shackled, Cook said. Reade allowed the handcuffs to be removed.
“I guess this is the time to apologize to my community, and especially to my dear wife and children, for the harm I have caused them,” Rubashkin said in court, according to The Des Moines Register. “There are no words to express the grief that I feel and have caused them.”
Cook said there were hundreds of supporters, many of them Orthodox Jews, at the courthouse over the past couple of days. Court officials set up an overflow courtroom with a closed-circuit television to accommodate the crowd of court observers.