Justice Dept. declines to intervene in Rubashkin case

NEW YORK (JTA) — The U.S. Department of Justice declined to intervene in the case of a convicted kosher meat executive, despite a plea from several Orthodox rabbis. 

In a letter last week to Rabbi Aron Raskin, and copied to several other rabbis active in this matter, the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys said the case involving Sholom Rubashkin case had been "fully litigated" and there was nothing more to be done. 

"Mr. Rubashkin has fully litigated the issue of whether detention pending sentencing is appropriate," H. Marshall Jarrett wrote. "Both the district court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals have determined that Mr. Rubashkin is a flight risk. We are sorry that we cannot be of further assistance in responding to your concerns."

Rubashkin, the former manager of the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, was convicted of 86 counts of financial fraud last November and ordered held pending sentencing. 

In January, a coalition of rabbis wrote to the U.S. attorney general asking for reconsideration of the case, in which they claim that prosecutors were unnecessarily harsh in their treatment of Rubashkin. The rabbis have said that Rubashkin’s incarceration interferes with his religious practice and that securing his release is a humanitarian issue. 

Last month, the Des Moines Register reported that Rubashkin had been moved to a private jail cell after a disagreement with a fellow inmate over the volume of a television set became physical. 

"Sholom Rubashkin is a very religious man who has proposed that he be imprisoned pending his sentencing under 24-hour armed guard at his home, where he can engage fully in religious observances," said Rubashkin’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin. "There is no basis in law and no reason to keep him in a local jail until he is sentenced in April."

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