Former Iowa slaughterhouse manager seeks acquittal

AP News
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Posted: Nov 20, 2009 6:24 PM

A former kosher slaughterhouse manager convicted of financial fraud has asked for an acquittal or new trial, saying prosecutors unfairly brought in evidence of immigration violations.

In a motion filed late Thursday, Sholom Rubashkin's attorney said his conviction on 86 counts of financial fraud should be overturned because prosecutors didn't abide by rules established by U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade.

Reade had the divided 163 federal charges against Rubashkin into two trials _ one on financial fraud and one on immigration violations. After Rubashkin was convicted on the financial fraud counts last week, the judge dismissed the immigration charges Thursday at prosecutors' request. The charges can be refiled later if prosecutors choose.

"The government poisoned the financial trial with prejudicial evidence from the immigration charges, which they have now dismissed," said Guy Cook, one of Rubashkin's three attorneys.

Separately, Reade on Friday denied Rubashkin's request that he be released from jail until he's sentenced. Rubashkin is a greater flight risk after his conviction, she said.

"The court agrees that defendant has shown he is committed to his family and to his community," Reade wrote. "Nevertheless, the court finds that this evidence does not rise to the 'clear and convincing' level necessary to show that he is 'not likely to flee ... if released.' "

U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Sean Berry declined to comment on the request for an acquittal or Rubashkin's request to be released pending sentencing. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Rubashkin was a top manager at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, the site of a massive immigration raid in which 389 people were arrested in May 2008. The plant fell into bankruptcy after the raid, and charges against Rubashkin soon followed.

Rubashkin's attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, also argued in the motion that his conviction on money laundering charges should be overturned because the jury found Rubashkin didn't profit from it. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 held that money laundering doesn't exist without "proceeds," or a profit.

The jury wasn't properly instructed to distinguish between the total amount brought and the profit earned from money laundering, Brown said.

The motion also argues that several defense witnesses were unfairly excluded or limited in their testimony. Those witnesses include an immigration lawyer who was at the Agriprocessors plant the day of the raid. The defense expected him to testify about whether Rubashkin knew which employees had false documentation.