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Worksite Enforcement

Sholom Rubashkin sentenced to 27 years in federal prison

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The former CEO of Agriprocessors Inc. was sentenced on Tuesday to 27 years in federal prison. This sentence resulted from a two-year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Sholom Rubashkin, 51, from Postville, Iowa, received his sentence after jury verdicts found him guilty of 86 counts of financial fraud and related offenses Nov. 12, 2009. Evidence at trial showed Rubashkin inflated Agriprocessors' sales to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in bank loans that were not backed by any collateral.

Rubashkin also diverted millions of dollars in customer payments that were supposed to go to Agriprocessors' primary lender. He committed money laundering by running tens of millions of dollars through bank accounts at a Postville grocery store and a religious school. The trial evidence showed Rubashkin was personally involved in harboring hundreds of illegal aliens at Agriprocessors, and unlawfully delaying payments to Agriprocessors' cattle suppliers. He paid for fabricated identity documents for illegal aliens, and he personally inspected those documents. Evidence showed Rubashkin's fraud resulted in over $26 million in actual loss to Agriprocessors' lenders.

Over a two-year time period, when money was being fraudulently obtained from a lender, Rubashkin funneled about $1.5 million from Agriprocessors'accounts to his personal bank accounts. The money was used, in part, to pay for the following items:

  • about $300,000 on his credit card bills,
  • about $200,000 for a portion of the remodeling of his residence,
  • about $76,000 for his personal state and federal income tax,
  • about $41,000 for his mortgage payments on his personal residence,
  • about $25,000 for jewelry,
  • about $20,000 for sterling silver,
  • $1,245 per month for life insurance,
  • and $365 per month for his car payment.

"This prosecution and lengthy sentence resulted from an extensive two-year ICE worksite enforcement operation and follow-up investigation," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for the ICE office in Chicago which oversees Iowa. "This case serves as a warning to employers that, if you build your business on the backs of an illegal workforce, ICE and other federal resources are there to make you pay the price."

"Sholom Rubashkin expended enormous efforts to hide his many crimes from the public and law enforcement. On top of that, there have been orchestrated efforts to spread false information intended to elicit sympathy for him. It is a tragedy that many people were misled by this misinformation calculated to distract the public from the truth. The truth came out at trial and sentencing," said U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Rose. "No one won anything today as the damage caused by Mr. Rubashkin cannot be fully tallied. However, today the house of cards he constructed finally was brought down. When something is built on lies, it should be no surprise when it collapses under the weight of those lies."

Rubashkin was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade. His sentence was based, in part, on his leadership role in the crimes and his efforts to obstruct justice by testifying falsely at his trial. Rubashkin was sentenced to 324 months' imprisonment. Special assessments of $8,600 were imposed, and he was ordered to make $26,852,152.51 in restitution. He must also serve a five-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

The U.S. Attorney's Office works to ensure victims are made whole as quickly as possible and is seeking the public's assistance in locating or identifying Rubashkin's assets. If anyone has information regarding Rubashkin's assets with a significant value, they are urged to call 319-731-4080.

Rubashkin is being held in U.S. Marshals custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The investigation began in October 2007 and continued after ICE executed search warrants at Agriprocessors on May 12, 2008.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Deegan, C.J. Williams, and Matthew Cole.  The investigation has been led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI. Prior assistance was provided by the following agencies: U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Postal Inspections Service, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa Department of Transportation, Federal Protective Service, Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations, U.S. Department of Labor, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Drug Enforcement Administration, Waterloo Police Department, and Postville Police Department.

Court file information is available at: https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl. The case file number is CR 08-1324 LRR.