Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.
Convicted Agriprocessors supervisor requests revisit of sentence
The first Agriprocessors supervisor sentenced following a massive immigration raid at the Postville meatpacking plant is requesting the court review his sentence on a belief that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling will mitigate it.
Juan Carlos Guerrero-Espinoza, 36, was sentenced to and is serving 36 months in federal prison. Two years of that sentence was a mandatory ruling for aggravated identity theft, according to court documents, and was a term of the plea deal he signed that allowed him to avoid deportation and for his wife and children to return to the U.S. following his prison term. He entered into the plea agreement in late August 2008.
Roughly nine months later, on May 4, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that many of the convictions and sentences given to immigrant detainees from the Postville raid were in error. According to the ruling, federal prosecutors inappropriately used aggravated identity theft laws to prosecute undocumented workers because the prosecution did not prove that the workers knowingly used identities that belonged to other individuals.
“As a matter of ordinary English grammar, it seems natural to read the statute’s word ‘knowingly’ as applying to all subsequently listed elements of the crime,” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer in the decision.
Other Agriprocessors supervisors, despite being originally charged with aggravated identity theft, had charges removed by the prosecution following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In light of this, attorneys for Guerrero-Espinoza is requesting the court vacate or correct his sentence to reflect what has happened in the other cases and the decision by the Justices. If the request is granted, he could be freed after serving 19 months.
Court documents filed in August 2008 indicated that Guerrero-Espinoza “conspired with others, and aided and abetted his employer, in hiring more than 10 individuals” whom he knew to be undocumented and unable to legally work in the U.S. He was convicted, in part, due to a conversation he had with employees under his supervision on May 7, 2008. At that time Guerrero-Espinoza allegedly told workers he knew to be illegal immigrants that they were going to be terminated and then immediately rehired by Agriprocessors. While this testimony goes directly to the aiding and abetting illegal aliens charge, it does not speak directly to whether Guerrero-Espinoza was aware that the documents used to re-hire the workers stemmed from stolen identities.
Upon the federal conviction of Sholom Rubashkin, former Agriprocessors day-to-day manager, on numerous fraud-related charges, prosecutors have agreed not to seek a second trial on the immigration-related offenses that he faced. Without that trial, it is unlikely that much of the immigration-related evidence gathered at the Agriprocessors site following the 2008 raid, or much of the key witness testimony, will ever be publicly revealed.