Saturday, July 18, 2009

Former Iowa kosher slaughterhouse manager faces new charges stemming from immigration raid

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Federal prosecutors have added wire and mail fraud charges to the allegations against the former manager of a kosher slaughterhouse in northeast Iowa.

The new, 163-count indictment was filed Thursday against Agriprocessors, Inc., in Postville and former plant manager Sholom Rubashkin.

The superceding indictment adds 14 wire fraud charges and nine counts of mail fraud.

Rubashkin attorney Guy Cook said Friday he would ask U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade to push back the current trial date of Sept. 15.

"Rubashkin will plead not guilty whether it's one count or 163 counts," Cook said.

Prosecutors allege the fraud began before an immigration raid at the plant in May 2008 in which 389 people were detained, though the raid worsened the company's financial problems and was a factor in its later bankruptcy filing.

"From Rubashkin's perspective, this is continued overreaching by the government which began with Black Hawk helicopters and automatic weapons more than a year ago," Cook said, referring to the immigration raid.

U.S. attorney spokesman Bob Teig declined to comment Friday on the new charges.

Each of the additional 23 charges carries a maximum penalty of $1 million and 30 years in prison............

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