A former manager of a kosher slaughterhouse found to have employed hundreds of illegal immigrants was arrested Thursday by authorities who allege he helped many of the workers get fake documents.
Sholom Rubashkin, 49-year-old son of Agriprocessors owner Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, is charged with conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants for financial gain, aiding and abetting document fraud and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.
According to a federal affidavit, one witness told immigration agents Sholom Rubashkin gave him $4,500 to buy identification documents for illegal workers. Another allegedly said that Rubashkin saw nothing wrong with hiring a group of workers who had new-looking resident alien cards and may have been fired from the Agriprocessors plant in Postville just two days earlier.
Agents raided the plant May 12, arresting 389 people in what officials said at the time was the largest single-site immigration bust in U.S. history. State prosecutors allege that more than 30 of the workers were children.
Agents also seized dozens of fraudulent permanent resident alien cards during the raid, according to the affidavit.
Telephone messages left for Agriprocessors officials and Rubashkin's lawyer weren't returned.
The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the case Thursday, and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman did not return calls seeking comment.
Money for IDs
The affidavit said an unnamed witness, a former supervisor in the beef kill area, told investigators he or she met with Rubashkin in a barn area of the plant the week before the raid. The witness told Rubashkin that $4,500 was needed to help employees fired from the witness' department because they had bad papers. Rubashkin apparently asked if the money had to be in cash and the next morning agreed to loan it. Later in the day another employee gave the witness the cash in $100 bills.
That witness said he or she then gave up to $200 each to employees to purchase new identification documents. The new documents were obtained and given to plant foremen to give to up to 40 employees a day before the raid, according to the affidavit.
Earlier this week, Laura Althouse, a human resources employee with Agriprocessors, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants for financial gain and aggravated identity theft. Trial is scheduled for Nov. 17 for another human resources worker, Karina Freund.
Two of the plant's meatpacking supervisors also faced federal immigration charges.
In September, the owner and managers of the plant, including Sholom Rubashkin, were charged with 9,311 misdemeanors alleging they illegally hired minors and let children younger than 16 handle dangerous equipment. The complaint filed by the Iowa attorney general's office said the violations involved 32 illegal-immigrant children younger than 18, including seven who were not yet 16.
On Wednesday, Agriprocessors was fined nearly $10 million by Iowa Labor Commissioner Dave Neil over accusations that it violated state wage laws. The company has 30 days to appeal.