Judge to Decide Whether Rubashkin Attorneys Violated Court Rules

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

(AP Photo/The Waterloo Courier, Matthew Putney)

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By Adam Carros

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Former Agriprocessors vice president Sholom Rubashkin will have to explain to a federal judge Monday why private investigators working for him have been contacting jurors from his 2009 trial, without the judge's permission.

A former juror told assistant U.S. Attorneys last week he had been contacted twice by private investigators working for Rubashkin, who was convicted of bank fraud and other charges, and asked for his assistance regarding an appeal for Rubashkin, according to court documents. The juror declined to speak with investigators and Rubashkin's daughter, who accompanied an investigator during one of the contacts.

The government filed a motion Friday asking the court to require Rubashkin and his attorneys to explain why the court shouldn't hold them in contempt for violating local court rules. According to local court rules, a defendant and attorneys are prohibited to question trial jurors before, during or after a trial concerning their actual jury service without the trial judge's consent.

U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade will hear arguments 8 a.m. Monday. Rubashkin can attend via phone conference from prison but his attorneys are required to attend, according to her order Wednesday.

Reade filed a previous order Monday, after the government filed its show cause motion, that was sent to jurors who served on Rubashkin's 2009 trial informing them that she didn't give her permission to Rubashkin and his attorneys to contact them but if they choose to talk to them, it is their right.

Rubashkin of Postville was convicted in 2009 by a jury in South Dakota, after a venue change, on 86 federal counts of bank, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failure to pay livestock providers in a timely manner. The charges stem from a May 2008 immigration raid at the former Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville. Nearly 400 illegal workers were charged. Rubashkin was sentenced in 2010 to 27 years in federal prison.

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