The White House wrote that the commutation was “based on expressions of support from Members of Congress and a broad cross-section of the legal community” though the 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.” Therefore Rubashkin was released 20 years earlier than planned.
A massive federal immigration raid in 2008 at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, led to the arrest of many undocumented Guatemalans and Mexican workers. At that time, it was the largest raid into a workplace in the United States. Rubashkin was charged a year later on the bank fraud and money laundering charges as he tried to sell the company, which was on the verge of bankruptcy.
“In 2009, he was convicted of bank fraud and sentenced thereafter to 27 years in prison,” a statement Wednesday by the White House said. “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.”
The statement described the commutation as an “an action encouraged by bipartisan leaders from across the political spectrum, from Nancy Pelosi to Orrin Hatch,” referring to the Democratic leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Republican senator from Utah, respectively.
Attached to the statement was a long list of lawmakers from both parties who backed Rubashkin’s release as well as former top-ranking Justice Department officials, also from both parties.
“This action is not a Presidential pardon,” the statement said. “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.”
Rubashkin, a member of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, is 57. He has 10 children, which Trump noted in his commutation.
Billionaire Hershey Friedman of Montreal purchased the meatpacking plant in 2009 and rebranded it as Agri Star Meat and Poultry.