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Agriprocessors, five Postville plant managers indicted by grand jury
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa unsealed new charges against Agriprocessors and five members of the meatpacking company’s management team today. The charges, ranging from immigration-related offenses to bank fraud, are included in a 12-count indictment.
Members of management named in the indictment are former Agriprocessors Chief Executive Sholom M. Rubashkin, 49; plant Operations Manager Brent Beebe, 51; former plant Poultry Manager Hosam Amara, 44; former plant Poultry Manager Zeev Levi; and former plant human resources employee Karina Freund, 29.
Charges from the indictment are as follows:
- Agriprocessors, Inc. — conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit, harboring undocumented aliens for profit, conspiracy to commit document fraud, aiding and abetting document fraud, six counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, and two counts of bank fraud
- Rubashkin — conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit, harboring undocumented aliens for profit, conspiracy to commit document fraud, aiding and abetting document fraud, six counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, and two counts of bank fraud
- Beebe — conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit, harboring undocumented aliens for profit, conspiracy to commit document fraud, aiding and abetting document fraud, and six counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft
- Amara — conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit, harboring undocumented aliens for profit, conspiracy to commit document fraud, and aiding and abetting document fraud
- Levi — conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit, harboring undocumented aliens for profit, conspiracy to commit document fraud, and aiding and abetting document fraud
- Freund — conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit and harboring undocumented aliens for profit (The harboring charge is restated from a prior indictment, but the conspiracy to harbor charge is new.)
Beebe was arrested without incident at approximately noon at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and the U.S. Marshals Service. He is slated to appear this afternoon in federal court in Cedar Rapids for an initial appearance and arraignment.
Rubashkin, who learned yesterday that he would remain in federal custody until trial on a different charge, is already being held in the Dubuque County Jail. Freund was released on conditions including electronic monitoring.
Federal authorities continue to search for Amara and Levi, both believed to have fled the jurisdiction shortly after the massive May 12 immigration raid at the kosher meatpacking plant. Iowa Independent was the first news outlet to report that Amara was believed to have fled. Those with information regarding Amara’s or Levi’s whereabouts are encouraged to contact ICE at (866) 347-2423.
Arraignments for Agriprocessors, Rubashkin and Freund have been scheduled for Nov. 26. In addition, Rubashkin and Freund already had a trial on other charges related to Agriprocessors slated for Jan. 20, 2009.
The week prior to the immigration raid, according to court documents, then Agriprocessors CEO Rubashkin loaned $4,500 to employees known to have fraudulent identification documents. Allegedly, Beebe then gave the money to the undocumented employees so that they could purchase new fraudulent alien resident cards. An Agriprocessors foreman, yet unnamed in court documents, arranged the purchase of the documents and Rubashkin allegedly asked human resources employees at the plant to work on Sunday, May 11, to complete all the new paperwork for several employees. The indictment states that Beebe was present that afternoon and assisted with the paperwork.
The indictment handed down yesterday by the grand jury relies heavily on the testimony provided by former Agriprocessors employees Martin De La Rosa, Juan Carlos Guerrero-Espinoza and Laura Althouse – all of which have been in federal court on their own immigration-related charges – to make the conspiracy, harboring and document fraud charges.
Previous court documents have indicated that 96 fraudulent alien resident cards and application paperwork were seized from the Agriprocessors human resources office on the day of the raid. Approximately 90 of the cards had numbers that were assigned to other people.
The bank fraud charges listed in the indictment stem from an incident on Feb. 29 in which Rubashkin, on behalf of the company, made a false certification to a lending bank that Agriprocessors was operating in a law-abiding manner, despite his having prior knowledge that numerous undocumented workers were employed at the plant. In addition, the indictment discusses Rubashkin’s alleged actions in September 2008 to divert customer payments away from a lender’s account, in order to enhance the Agriprocessors bottom line and pull additional funds from an existing line of credit tied to the customer payments.
“Beginning on a date unknown to the grand jury and continuing through about October 2008, in the Northern District of Iowa and elsewhere, defendants Agriprocessors and Sholom Rubashkin knowingly executed, and attempted to execute, a scheme to obtain funds under the control of First Bank and FBBC by means of fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.
“… Rubashkin, on behalf of defendant Agriprocessors, and contrary to the terms of the loan agreement, diverted customer payments on accounts receivable. Defendant Rubashkin then hid from FBBC the fact that the customer payments had been received by, among other things, causing defendant Agriprocessors’ books to inaccurately reflect that no such payments had been received. By doing this, defendant Rubashkin cased defendant Agriprocessors’ books to inaccurately reflect that customers owed inflated amounts of money on their accounts. … Eventually, and in order to hide this portion of the scheme, defendant Rubashkin caused checks of Agriprocessors and third party entites he controlled to be drafted payable to defendant Agriprocessors and then presented to FBBC in such a way that they fraudulently appeared to be from a customer.”
The company faces numerous fines in conjunction with the charges. On five charges — the conspiracy to harbor, the harboring, the conspiracy to commit document fraud, the aiding and abetting document fraud, and aiding and abetting document fraud -– the company faces a fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the pecuniary gain from the offense. Since the company was charged with six counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, the company faces the fine on each count. In addition, the company faces a fine of the greater of $1 million or twice the loss caused in relation to the bank fraud charges.
The individuals also face hefty fines for their alleged wrongdoings. The individuals, unlike the company, however, also face prison time.
The possible maximum penalty on charges of conspiracy to harbor is 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Charges of harboring and aiding and abetting document fraud carry the same possible maximum sentence. Conspiracy to commit document fraud carries a possible maximum five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory consecutive two years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and one year of supervised release.