"Our town collapsed" Postville pastor responds to President Trum - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"Our town collapsed" Postville pastor responds to President Trump's decision

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A Postville pastor is delivering a sharp rebuke of President Trump's decision to commute the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, a former Iowa kosher meatpacking executive.

"How do we forget the abuse and exploitation of which the immigrants were victims to in that plant? It is believed that Mr. Rubashkin knew it all and he allowed it," said Fr. Nils de Jesús Hernández, a pastor from St. Bridget in Postville.

In 2009, Rubashkin was convicted of fraud. He turned in fake invoices which made the company's books look better than they were so it could borrow more money. That came after federal authorities raided Agriprocessors, arresting 389 illegal immigrants.

He has served 8 years of his sentence.

"It seems that the testimony of the nearly 400 immigrants who were imprisoned, deported, or under the abuse of the power of Agriprocessors, Inc. and ICE will be forgotten," said Father Hernandez.

Hernandez says St. Bridget became a sanctuary for families at that time.

"Postville will never forget the crying of the families and the fear of the children losing their parents and not seeing them again in their lives. Postville was truly devastated, its economy collapsed, but the most painful thing was the loss of a great part of its population that just wanted to give a better future to their children," said Hernandez.

"Our town collapsed completely. Our community has recovered thanks to many great people; however, we need an urgent immigration reform. We cannot tolerate more abuses and families divided. The current immigration system is a broken system and nothing is being done by Congress," said Hernandez.

The White House says it's not a presidential pardon and does not vacate Rubashkin's conviction.

"It seems like the president always benefits the rich people," said Hernandez.

In a statement, the White House said the president's review of the case and his decision were based on support from members of Congress and a broad cross-section of the legal community.


Today, President Trump commuted the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin.

He's the former Agriprocessors CEO who was sentenced to 27 years in a federal prison.

He was convicted of 86 counts of financial fraud after a raid at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville in 2008.

At the time, 389 illegal immigrants were detained. 

Agriprocessors was the country's largest kosher meat-processing company.

Rubashkin was convicted of financial fraud for bilking the plant's bank by submitting fake invoices that made the company's finances appear healthier than they were so that it could borrow more.

He has served more than 8 years of his sentence.

The commutation is President Trump's first in office.

The following is today's statement from the White House:

"Today, President Donald J. Trump commuted the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, an action encouraged by bipartisan leaders from across the political spectrum, from Nancy Pelosi to Orrin Hatch.

Mr. Rubashkin is a 57-year-old father of 10 children.  He previously ran the Iowa headquarters of a family business that was the country’s largest kosher meat-processing company.  In 2009, he was convicted of bank fraud and sentenced thereafter to 27 years in prison. Mr. Rubashkin has now served more than 8 years of that sentence, which many have called excessive in light of its disparity with sentences imposed for similar crimes.

This action is not a Presidential pardon.  It does not vacate Mr. Rubashkin’s conviction, and it leaves in place a term of supervised release and a substantial restitution obligation, which were also part of Mr. Rubashkin’s sentence.

The President’s review of Mr. Rubashkin’s case and commutation decision were based on expressions of support from Members of Congress and a broad cross-section of the legal community.  A bipartisan group of more than 100 former high-ranking and distinguished Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, prosecutors, judges, and legal scholars have expressed concerns about the evidentiary proceedings in Mr. Rubashkin’s case and the severity of his sentence.  Additionally, more than 30 current Members of Congress have written letters expressing support for review of Mr. Rubashkin’s case."

Rep. Steve King (R, Iowa) wrote a letter in 2010 requesting Attorney General Eric Holder review the case.  At the time, Rep. King said a major area of concern for him was the "use and (abuse) of the federal sentencing guidelines by the government and a judge, in order to arrive at and justify an outrageously long sentence - 27 years - for a first-time, white collar defendant. The sentencing judge ignored the factors prescribed by statute and calculated a prison term based entirely on an erroneous assertion of the lending bank's 'loss.' This so-called 'loss,' which was a major factor in significantly boosting Mr. Rubashkin's sentence, manifested itself only after the meat packing plant was forced into bankruptcy following the government's raid for alleged immigration violations."

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