President Trump commuted the first sentence of his presidency Wednesday bringing to an end the 27-year prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin for bank fraud and money laundering after more than eight years in prison. Rubashkin was the CEO of the country’s largest kosher meatpacking operation when federal agents raided his Iowa plant in 2008, arresting nearly 400 undocumented workers, including some children.
The immigration-related charges were later dismissed, but the raid led Rubashkin’s company, Agriprocessors, to declare bankruptcy, which, in turn, prompted federal authorities to investigate the company’s financial records. Investigators found suspicious invoices and sales records designed to inflate the company’s financial standing to maintain its line of credit. “Prosecutors accused Rubashkin of using the fake paperwork to continue borrowing on a $35 million line of credit, ultimately resulting in a $27 million loss for a St. Louis-based bank when Agriprocessors went defunct,” the Des Moines Register reports. “Supporters of Rubashkin have long claimed that the 27-year sentence handed down by Reade was excessive. Rubashkin’s prison sentence was nearly three years longer than the original prison sentence given to Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron president convicted in a fraud case that cost shareholders $11 billion.”
“Many Jewish leaders have rallied behind Mr. Rubashkin, whose treatment they said was unfair, perhaps even anti-Semitic, and whose sentence they considered unduly harsh and out of line with what other white-collar criminals received,” according to the New York Times. “In a statement announcing the commutation, White House officials said they had received letters from more than 30 members of Congress, including several members of both parties, supporting an examination of the case.”
Trump’s commutation is distinct from a pardon in that the 57-year-old father of 10 must still pay restitution for the losses incurred by his company’s fraud and the conviction stays on his record.