Trump Commutes a Sentence for the First Time

Rubashkin fraud was uncovered after immigration raid
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2017 2:12 AM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2017 6:07 AM CST
Trump Commutes Sentence for First Time
Sholom Rubashkin reads through evidence during his trial on state child labor charges on Friday, May 14, 2010 at the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo, Iowa.   (AP Photo/ Andrea Melendez, Pool)

Former meatpacking company exec Sholom Rubashkin will be going home to his 10 children after being the first person to have a sentence commuted by President Trump. The 57-year-old was eight years into a 27-year sentence for financial crimes uncovered after a massive immigration raid on an Iowa plant that provided around 60% of the country's kosher meat supply, CNN reports. In a statement, the White House said many had called the rabbi's sentence "excessive." The White House said a "bipartisan group of more than 100 former high-ranking and distinguished" prosecutors, officials, and legal scholars had expressed concern about the sentence, as had dozens of members of Congress from both parties. The move is not a pardon and does not vacate the conviction, the White House stressed.

Rubashkin was found guilty in 2009 of submitting fake paperwork so that Agriprocessors could borrow more money, the AP reports. He was acquitted in 2010 on state charges of violating state labor laws, and critics of the commutation say he should have been tried on federal immigration charges after the raid on the plant, which led to the arrest of nearly 400 undocumented workers. Former assistant US attorney Robert Teig tells the Des Moines Register that Rubashkin was probably Iowa's largest employer of undocumented immigrants at the time. He "couldn’t win legally, factually, or morally, so he had to win politically," Teig says. "It’s sad when politics interferes with the justice system." (In his only other use of his clemency powers, Trump pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.)

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