The former CEO of America’s largest kosher slaughterhouse has been convicted on 86 charges of fraud.
A South Dakota jury declared Sholom Rubashkin, formerly of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa, guilty of bank, mail and wire fraud; making false statements to a bank; money laundering; and ignoring an order to pay livestock providers. He was acquitted on five counts.
A date for sentencing has yet to be announced but Rubashkin, 50, could face up to 1,255 years in jail.
He still faces trial on 72 charges relating to immigration violations.
The saga of the Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse has shocked American Jewry ever since People for Ethical Treatment of Animals released an undercover video in 2004 showing animals surviving, and even standing up, minutes after they were supposedly slaughtered.
In May 2008, Agriprocessors was the scene of the largest immigration raid in US history. More than 300 workers, mostly Guatemalan and Mexican, were rounded up by the US Department of Homeland Security and put into detention camps. Many accused the plant of unsavoury working conditions before they were deported.
Agriprocessors then went bankrupt. It was rescued by Hershey Friedman, a Canadian whose company, SHF industries, bought the firm for $8.5 million.
The scale of the raid generated such negative media publicity that Mr Rubashkin’s trial had to be moved out of Iowa to neighbouring South Dakota.
Prosecutors alleged that Rubashkin falsified sales records to defraud his major lender. He used the money for personal expenses and to keep the plant running.
Dozens of strictly Orthodox men travelled to South Dakota to support Rubashkin during the trial.
Following the verdict, Rubashkin’s wife, Leah, told media, “We know he’s innocent and we look forward to his appeal.
“Obviously, this is not a pleasant thing.”
His son Getzel added, “We’re in God’s hands, and it’s going to be good.”