The 23-year-old daughter of former kosher slaughterhouse executive Sholom Rubashkin is planning to wed this week, and her older sister is hoping their father — serving a 27-year prison sentence for financial fraud — will be in attendance.
“I’m hoping for a miracle like the splitting of the Red Sea,” said Roza Hindy Weiss, 30, of the Albany suburb of Colonie.
“My family has always been very close and in some ways this [arrest and conviction] has brought out a tremendous faith in God,” she continued during an interview at The Jewish Week offices. “I’m not going to lie to you — this has been a terrible thing that nobody should go through.”
Rubashkin, whose prison term Weiss said is tantamount to a life sentence, since he is already 53, has few options other than miracle at this point. His legal appeals have all failed, and the U.S. Supreme Court in October declined to review his term.
He was convicted of a scheme to defraud his company’s banker out of $27 million by submitting false invoices that inflated the value of the company.
His arrest followed a much-publicized raid on his Agriprocessors plant by immigration authorities to arrest 389 illegal immigrants. Rubashkin’s lawyers contended that the judge who presided over his case had met with federal authorities to plan the raid and therefore could not be impartial.
Weiss said the severity of the prison sentence is greater than sentences given to some murderers and noted that her father had never before been in trouble with the law. She said that another man who had committed the exact same fraud in another matter was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
Asked why her father continued to insist on his innocence, rather than accept a plea deal, Weiss said she never discussed the case with him.
“He wanted to go to trial, and he believed in the American system — he thought he would get a fair trial,” she said. “But the judge determines what evidence the jury sees … and she was acting as an arm of the prosecutor.
“I feel like my father is the poster boy for flaws in our system. I think it’s our mission to wake up the American people about what the justice system has become. China has one billion more people than we do and we have more people in prison and the highest recidivism rate. … It is my hope that my father’s story will bring about sentencing reform.”
Asked what this ordeal has done to her family, Weiss replied: “It has brought out an amazing strength in both my father and my mother. Both have an extremely strong faith in G-d and do not believe the 27 years will be a reality. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but I believe it will happen.
And as a daughter, I’m going to do everything I can to advocate for him and open as many doors as I can to free him.”