Proceedings against Agriprocessors employees concludes

Criminal proceedings against former employees of the nation’s largest kosher meatpacking plant concluded.

U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth announced Thursday that 297 of 389 people detained last week at the Agriprocessors plant pleaded guilty and were sentenced on felony charges. Criminal charges brought against the detainees all related to the use of false information to gain employment.

Of those sentenced, the vast majority received five-month prison sentences followed by three years of supervised release. All those sentenced face deportation.

Also on Thursday, Ron Wahls, a guidance counselor in the Postville public schools and the owner of several rental properties in town, said he received a subpoena to appear in June before a grand jury, the Des Moines Register reported.

It is unclear whether Wahls has been called as a witness or as a potential target of a government investigation. A spokesperson for the Northern Iowa U.S. Attorney’s Office would neither confirm nor deny that a grand jury has been convened in connection with the Postville raid.

“The obvious thing to say is that they’re building a case against the Rubashkins themselves,” said Marc Stern, general counsel to the American Jewish Congress.

An R.W. was named in the original government affidavit that laid the legal groundwork for last week’s raid at Agriprocessors. R.W. is alleged to have carried an envelope of cash with which he paid undocumented Agiprocessors employees. Wahls told the Des Moines Register that he is probably the R.W. named in the affidavit.

Wahls has ties to Agriprocessors and its owners, the Rubashkin family of Brooklyn. He participated in a November 2006 meeting in Minneapolis with Sholom Rubashkin, who runs Agriprocessors, and two Jewish officials trying to improve conditions at the plant. A page on the Agriprocessors’ Web site, headlined “Finding a Home: Postville Housing,” identifies Ron Wahls as the builder of apartment buildings to house workers at the plant.

Phone messages left for Wahls at his home and office, as well as for a spokesperson for Agriprocessors, were not returned.

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