Supporters of Sholom Rubashkin Outraged by Excessive Prison Sentence

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From the JTA:

Sentence of 27 Years Inconsistent with Calls from Legal Community for Judge to Avoid Disparity of Justice

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Family, friends and supporters of Sholom Rubashkin expressed outrage Monday after the federal court announced a sentence of 27 years in prison for Rubashkin for his bank fraud conviction. The sentence is greater than the amended recommendation from prosecutors, and is inconsistent with calls from throughout the legal community for Rubashkin to be sentenced in a manner similar to other men and women convicted of white-collar crimes.

“The sentence is greater than necessary, indeed, it is greater than what the government asked for,” said Guy Cook, a member of Rubashkin’s legal defense team. “It is unfair and excessive, essentially a life sentence for a 51-year-old man, and is not in the public interest.”

The Hon. Bob Barr announced Monday that Rubashkin will appeal the verdict and the sentence.

“This sentence is inconsistent with the overwhelming view of the legal community, including six former U.S. attorneys general, who have all said a first-time, non-violent offense does not warrant a multi-decade sentence,” Barr said. “The court’s sentence today is even more than prosecutors asked for, which is a very disturbing development.”

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4 Responses

  1. mycroft says:

    There is no doubt thatthe Rubashkin sentence is harsher than average for white collar crimes-BUT I am afraid that many in our community do not realize how severely white collar crime is treated by the sentencing guidelines. A few decades ago white collar crimnes tended not to receive severe sentences but the sentencing guidelines made a drastic change to sentences.
    The rationale for severe sentences is prbably not the danger that the defendant in this case Rubashkin would do the actions again but rather a lemman yishmau vyirau approach. There are frankly, no civil penalties that would prevent a profit maximizing immoral person from engaging in fraud-it is simply the fear of imprisonment.
    BTW-I have seen many organized campaigns against harsh sentencing by various Orthodox groups -and I have not seen those campaigns succeed-if anything if seems to force the judge to throw the book at the defendant.

  2. Sarah says:

    Karen, the charges of child labor WERE prosecuted – and the defendant was acquitted! That seems to have had absolutely no (positive) influence on the judge, who seems determined to make sure the defendant never sees the light of day again – and if he doesn’t get time on child labor charges, she’ll make sure to add to his other sentence. What a perversion of justice – and I hope the appeals court will be fair-minded enough to see it. Even the NY Times commented on the harshness and disproportionality of the sentence compared to what others convicted of fraud received.

  3. Karen Hening-Speedone says:

    This sentence reflects, I think, the judge knowing that there are other charges involving the defendant, including multiple violations of child labor laws. Her loading the sentence is wrong in that sense.

    If there are charges of child labor violations, they should be prosecuted and let justice run its course. The judge should not allow other actors of alleged criminal activity influence her sentencing.

  4. David N. Friedman says:

    The sentence was truly way out of proportion to the offense. We live in a country that coddles criminals who commit violent crimes and took a sledge-hammer to a guy who deserved a far lighter sentence.