Saying the fraud sentencing of kosher meat king Shalom Rubashkin was disproportionate compared with sentences meted out to others who committed more serious crimes, Rep. Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn has called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to intervene.
“While our system is one of the best, unfortunately it does not always get it right,” wrote Clarke, whose district includes Crown Heights, home of the Lubavitch Chasidic movement, in which the Rubashkin family is prominent. “I have opposed mandatory minimums throughout my public life as they often times result in sentences that don’t fit the crime.”
Rubashkin, the CEO and vice president of Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, was sentenced to 27 years after being convicted of 86 of 91 bank fraud charges. Prosecutors initially accused him of employing illegal workers but dropped those charges.
The fraud conviction involved $26 million in funds from First Bank Business Capital of St. Louis.
In her letter to Holder Clarke noted that Tyco investment executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz were sentenced to eight and one third to 25 years for a scheme involving hundreds of millions and Enron energy chief Jeffrey Skilling, in a scandal that led to the collapse of a $63 billion company, was sentenced to 24 years. WorldCom communications CEO Bernie Ebbers received 25 years for a fraud involving $11 billion, Clarke wrote.
“The fact that Mr. Rubashkin received a more severe sentence than any of those mentioned is troublesome and inconsistent with having the punishment fit the crime,” Clarke wrote. “Therefore, on behalf of my constituents who have come to me seeking justice in this case, I am requesting that you launch a formal inquiry into the sentencing phase of this case.”