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Agriprocessors Supervisors: ‘Not Guilty’
Two supervisors charged with encouraging workers to obtain and use fraudulent documents in order to continue employment at Agriprocessors in Postville pleaded “not guilty” in federal court.
Martin De La Rosa-Loera, 43, and Juan Carlos Guerrero-Espinoza, 35, are both are charged with aiding and abetting the possession and use of fraudulent identity documents and encouraging aliens to illegally reside in the U.S.
Although court proceedings were scheduled to begin Thursday morning at 9 a.m. in the temporary court facilities in Cedar Rapids, a transportation snafu delayed the start of the hearings until later that same day.
The men, who are being prosecuted individually, have obtained representation. Guerrero-Espinoza is being represented by Corey Rubenstein of Chicago while De La Rosa-Loera is represented by Thomas McQueen, also of Chicago. Both defense attorneys requested an extension of time to petition the court to revisit a previous detention order that requires the defendants to remain in custody while awaiting trail.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Jon Scoles, who cited a weight of evidence against the defendants and previous criminal activity when handing down the original detention order, approved the extension. Chief Judge Linda Reade is anticipated to make a ruling on the motions after they are filed. If the order is upheld, the defendants will remain in custody until their Sept. 15 trial date.
Guerrero-Espinoza and De La Rosa-Loera are the first two members of Agriprocessors’ management team to face charges since the May 12 immigration raid at the plant. Agriprocessors, the dominant kosher food company in the nation, is owned by the Rubashkin family, a politically-connected clan from Brooklyn, N.Y. Sholom Rubashkin stepped down as the company’s chief executive officer after the raid that resulted in the detention of 389 undocumented workers, most of whom were convicted of criminal wrongdoing and will be deported.
The indictment against Guerrero-Espinoza alleges that, a few days before the execution of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement search warrant, he told a group of employees that they needed new identification and social security numbers in order to continue working at the plant. He then, according to testimony, told the workers that they would need to provide him with a photograph and either $200 or $220.
The complaint against De La Rosa-Loera alleges he told some undocumented workers that they could no longer be employed at Agriprocessors because their identification was bad. He later allegedly told those same employees that they could return to work using the same names that had previously been used for employment.
Court documents also indicated the raid netted fraudulent permanent alien resident cards from the Agriprocessors human resources offices.
Authorities continue to search for a third supervisor, Hosam Amara. The indictment listing specific charges against Amara remains sealed.
Agriprocessors produces about 60 percent of the kosher meat and 40 percent of the kosher poultry in the U.S. market. The company’s brands include Aaron’s Best, Aaron’s Choice, European Glatt, Nevel, Shor Harbor, Rubashkin’s, Supreme Kosher, David’s and Iowa’s Best. Two-thirds of their products are nonkosher, and are sold through retailers including Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s.