Top Stories

Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

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.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Rubashkin bail appeal denied, brother-in-law arrested

By Lynda Waddington | 02.19.10 | 9:57 am

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to act on bail release petitions from Sholom Rubashkin, former day-to-day manager at a now defunct Iowa meatpacking company who was convicted on numerous charges of financial fraud last fall.

The Agriprocessors plant, which was sold through bankruptcy proceedings and now operates under new ownership as AgriStar, was the site of a massive immigration raid in May 2008. Nearly 400 workers, or roughly half of the plant’s workforce, was taken into custody by federal authorities. Within days 76 percent of those detained and charged criminally accepted plea agreements, most being sentenced to five months in federal prison prior to their deportation.

Sholom M. Rubashkin

Sholom M. Rubashkin

Sholom Rubashkin, the son of Agriprocessors’ founder A. Aaron Rubashkin, was instrumental in daily plant operations, which were shared with is  brother, Tzvi “Heshy” Rubashkin, who has not faced criminal charges. Prior to the raid, Agriprocessors was one of the nation’s leading suppliers of kosher meat. After the raid, the company quickly deteriorated.

Sholom was charged with numerous financial fraud and immigration-related offenses, the government electing to first prosecute on the fraud violations. When Sholom was convicted in November of 86 counts related to those violations, the government agreed to table the additional immigration-related offenses.

Since his conviction, Sholom has been held in federal custody, pending sentencing. Members of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to which the Rubashkins belong, have made numerous pleas on his behalf for bail — all to no avail. The sentencing phase of Rubashkin’s case is expected to get underway next month, and Rubashkin faces a multitude of years in prison.

Yet even as the Rubashkin family prepares to perhaps close one very public criminal case, another has already begun. Milton Balkany, a brother-in-law to Sholom, was arrested this week in New York for allegedly scheming to extort a Connecticut hedge fund out of $4 million. He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of the allegations.

In 2003 Balkany, who is also known as “the Brooklyn Bundler” for his knack for bundling political campaign contributions, was accused of misappropriating federal grant money intended for the Hebrew school. After he entered into a deferred agreement in 2004 regarding the missing funds, the criminal charges were dropped.

The latest allegations suggest that Balkany used his religious influence with a prison inmate to deter the inmate’s cooperation with police. The information known by the inmate, according to court documents, could have been used against a Connecticut hedge fund, which Balkany supposedly extorted for $4 million in exchange for keeping the inmate quiet. Prosecutors contend that Balkany told the hedge fund’s lawyers that, if they did not pay, he would help the inmate reduce his sentence by instructing him to speak openly with government authorities.

Balkany is currently released on $250,000 bond.

Follow Lynda Waddington on Twitter


  • gchrv

    Eric Holder Must Investigate Sentencing Disparities

    A few months ago, Attorney General Eric Holder took an important step in ensuring that all men are treated equally under our legal system. In a memorandum to federal prosecutors, he noted that those who commit similar crimes in different jurisdictions “should, to the extent possible, be treated similarly.” He also cautioned against unwarranted disparities in charging decisions, plea agreements and sentencing recommendations.

    But while putting these words on paper to guide federal prosecutors is important, the Department of Justice ultimately is to be judged on whether it follows in deeds. Unfortunately, right now the Obama administration is missing a golden opportunity in Iowa to show it supports parity for all…

    see full article:

Switch to our mobile site