Grant Rodgers reports in the Des Moines Register:
Prosecutors used disturbing tactics that secured a 27-year prison sentence for Iowa kosher slaughterhouse executive Sholom Rubashkin, according to a letter signed by more than 100 former U.S. attorneys general, judges and others.
The April 19 letter urges Kevin Techau, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, to “rectify the injustice” done to Rubashkin, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud and money laundering charges in the wake of a historic raid by immigration agents at his family’s Postville meatpacking plant, Agriprocessors.
The letter comes as defense attorneys detailed new evidence in a March filing suggesting that prosecutors knowingly allowed “false and misleading” testimony at a sentencing hearing that U.S. District Judge Linda Reade relied on in handing down the lengthy sentence.
Among the signers accusing the prosecutors of misconduct are four former attorneys general, the Cabinet official appointed by the president to oversee all prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice: John Ashcroft, Ramsey Clark, Edwin Meese III and Michael Mukasey.
Other signers include former U.S. senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, Republican mafia prosecutor and New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Kenneth Starr, a former appeals court judge who led ethics investigations into President Bill Clinton in the ’90s.
Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) directors Louis Freeh and William Sessions signed the letter as well.
But it’s hardly the first time Rubashkin supporters and notable figures, including former judges and members of Congress, have publicly weighed in with concerns about how prosecutors and Reade handled the controversial case, said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School and former federal prosecutor familiar with the case.
For instance, more than 80 former federal judges unsuccessfully asked the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 to hear an appeal from Rubashkin, calling the sentence unjust.
Can renewed pressure convince Techau and others that the convicted executive was wronged and deserves a chance that could put him on a path toward freedom?
“There’s nothing to be lost by trying, but it hasn’t worked so far,” Levenson said. “Unless they come up with new facts. That’s really the important thing. Not that you have big names, but that you have facts and law on your side.”
Federal prosecutors have until May 20 to file a response to the allegations by Rubashkin’s attorneys. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Young said the office would not publicly discuss the claims outside of the filing.