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.
Breaking: Rubashkin arrested, will appear in federal court today
First on the Iowa Independent: Federal prosecutors have arrested Sholom Rubashkin, former chief executive officer and vice president at Agriprocessors and son of company founder Aaron Rubashkin, on a criminal complaint that alleges the man conspired in immigration-related offenses.
The criminal complaint is the first against any high-level member of Agriprocessors management and comes in the wake of a massive May 12 immigration raid at the plant. In all, 389 workers — nearly half the plant’s workforce — were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
According to documents filed with the court, Rubashkin “did knowingly conspire, confederate and agree with others, for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain, to harbor one or more aliens at his place of employment in Postville, Iowa, knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that such aliens had come to, entered and remained in the United States and aided and abetted the possession and use of fraudulent identification documents and aided and abetted aggravated identity theft.”
According to Michael Fischels, a special agent with the Dept. of Homeland Security, dozens of fraudulent permanent resident alien cards were discovered and seized from offices within the human resources department at Agriprocessors during the May 12 raid.
“Most of the cards were attached to application paperwork dated May 11 or May 12, 2008,” Fischels wrote in the affidavit filed with the court. “Additional resident alien cards were groups in stacks and not attached to any paperwork. Based upon common features, ICE agents determined that the vast majority of the fraudulent resident alien cards came from the same manufacturer. Out of approximately 96 fraudulent resident alien cards, approximately 90 exhibited alien registration numbers which were then assigned to other actual persons.”
Fischels added that approximately 13 of the cards taken from the offices had photographs of people known to be working at the plant prior to May 11. All but two of the cards, however, “exhibited names which were different than the names the employees had been working under.”
The fraudulent resident alien cards are crucial to the case the government is making against Rubashkin because they are a physical link to claims made by former employees that Rubashkin provided $4,500 in cash as a loan to employees who could not afford to update their falsified documents.
The former plant supervisors, who remain unidentified in the affidavit, allegedly met with Rubashkin near the barn area on the Agriprocessors’ grounds on May 8 and asked for $4,500 to help employees slated for termination purchase new fraudulent documents. According to court documents, Rubashkin provided the supervisors the money in cash the following morning.
The unidentified supervisor, who worked in the beef-kill area, in turn presented employees in that department with $200 each as a loan so the employees could purchase the new documents from a different plant foreman, who was arranging for the purchase of the falsified documents. The documents for 39 or 40 employees were brought to the plant on May 11 by the foreman and distributed by the foreman and the unnamed supervisor.
An unidentified human resources employee is quoted in the affidavit as saying that s/he was personally asked by Sholom Rubashkin to process a large number of new employee applications on May 11. This same employee suspected that the new applicants were the employees slated for termination the previous Friday, and also identified at least one of the applicants as such.
Rubashkin will make an initial appearance in federal court for the Northern District of Iowa this afternoon. Requests for comment from Agriprocessors spokespersons have not yet garnered a response.
Update: A request for comment from Menachem Lubinsky, family friend and long-time spokesperson for Agriprocessors, was returned with the following response: “Sorry, but we do not represent Agriprocessors at this time.” A phone operator at Agriprocessors took contact information, but could not provide an alternate number where a company spokesperson could be reached.