Commentary by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
It took me some time to realize why I find the Rubashkin case so troubling.
For those who don’t know about this case, the head of the largest kosher meat processing company in the US was arrested during an immigration raid on his factory in Iowa. Hundreds of illegal aliens were found to be working at the factory. With the removal of most of the employees, the company cash flow stopped, it defaulted on bank loans and went bankrupt. The government said they were going to charge the CEO with knowingly hiring illegal aliens, 500 charges of such. After a lengthy investigation, only the CEO was charged and he was charged with…bank fraud for false statements on a company loan application that the company defaulted on after being shut down by the raid – for which he was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, and with underage workers (some of the illegal aliens were 17 years old) – for which he was acquitted.
Some bloggers were all over Mr. Rubashkin. He broke the law now he has to do the time. But what law?
While the videos above are very long, they point out that the current legal code in the United States (and many other Western nations) is such that you’re almost guaranteed to break the law every day. The officer in the video says “I can follow you for 15 minutes in the car and guaranteed I’ll be able to pull you over for some infraction.”
What may appear to you to be perfectly normal banking transactions, a pretty average tax return, normal business practices, normal charity practices, any and all of them may violate some obscure provision of the legal code and put you at risk for years in jail.
So the government comes to Agriprocessors, Aron’s Best Kosher, and raids the plant for illegal aliens. They investigate and find, oh look, the illegal aliens actually presented pretty realistic papers to show a right to work, so they can’t successfully prosecute anyone for hiring them. So they go fishing for additional crimes…to justify the raid and putting a company out of business. Hmm, child labor? They try that but fail, same documentation problem. Well, we’ve got banks screaming because the company just defaulted on a $30 million dollar loan (because their employees were carted away and the management arrested, so they can’t try to hire replacements or make decisions).
So they spend 6 months with a team of forensic accountants to go through every line of the company’s books, every payment, every invoice, every paper submitted to the IRS, every paper submitted to the bank.
And they find something! A few invoices overstate the actual product amount – inflated invoices. Why? We don’t know. A business friend giving a loan in a quiet way? Hiding some money movement from the IRS? They can’t determine any of these things and can’t charge on it.
BUT, two of these invoices were used on a bank loan application to show company average business. A factual error on a paper submitted for a loan which wasn’t paid back is bank fraud. They got him!
Except the reason he couldn’t pay it back was because the company was shut down by an immigration raid (for which nobody was charged with a crime) and for which he was put in prison (though there was no crime with which he was charged at the time) and therefore couldn’t manage the situation. Of course you can’t quickly hire 500 people, nor get bank credit when you are under investigation and house arrest.
So the company shuts down and can’t pay back the loan…which the government is waiting for to be able to prosecute him.
It’s an interesting thought experiment actually…if he refused to hire Hispanics unless they had extensive paperwork and spoke English, he’d be accused of discrimination and have the ACLU or the EEOE all over him.
Net net he made some mistakes and may not have been a good business manager. But when the government targets you, almost anyone is going down. And when the justice system has become such that you’re relying on the prosecutors to “be reasonable”, it’s no longer just.
Oh, and it came out yesterday the judge broke judicial procedure as he consulted on the raid beforehand and therefore couldn’t (but did) judge the case he helped set up.