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Rubashkin lawyers fight bail decision — shades of Wecht case
by By staff and wire reports
Dec 10, 2008 | 1523 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print


Lawyers for the former head of an Iowa kosher slaughterhouse asked a judge to reconsider his decision to deny bail.

In court documents filed Dec. 5, lawyers for Sholom Rubashkin made a substantial argument over the fact that the original detention order deeming Rubashkin a flight risk cited Israel’s Law of Return, which grants automatic citizenship to every Jew. Some Jews saw the ruling as setting a dangerous precedent that could be used to deny bail to Jewish defendants solely on the basis of their religion.

This is not the first time the argument has been made. In Pittsburgh, the same argument was used a year earlier when attorneys representing Dr. Cyril H. Wecht on theft and fraud, asked that their client be allowed to surrender rather than be arrested. According to news reports, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan refused saying she believed Wecht to be a flight risk to Israel.

Wecht, who faces 14 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and theft from an organization receiving federal funds in connection with his former position as Allegheny County coroner, criticized the tactic as anti-Semitic. His trial ended in a hung jury and a second trial is pending.

Rubashkin’s attorneys also proposed three additional measures to ensure that Rubashkin will not flee. They are hiring 24-hour security to monitor Rubashkin and enforce his compliance with any court-ordered restrictions; executing a waiver of extradition, making it easier to return Rubashkin to the United States if he were to flee the country; and posting any additional security demanded by the court. The Rubashkin family would pay the security.

Rubashkin, the former supervisor of the Agriprocessors meatpacking facility in Postville, was arrested in late October on charges relating to the hiring of illegal workers at the plant. While free on bond, he was arrested a second time and charged with bank fraud.

Following his second arrest, a federal judge magistrate denied bail to Rubashkin after deeming him a flight risk. Prosecutors alleged that a travel bag with money, silver coins and passports were found in his house and warned that Israeli law granted automatic citizenship to Jews. They also noted that two former Agriprocessors employees suspected of crimes are believed to have fled to Israel.

Rubashkin’s attorneys countered that he is deeply connected to his family and the Postville community — several members agreed to put up the equity in their homes to guarantee his appearance in court.

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