Why All the Sympathy for This Slaughterhouse Executive?

Former Agriprocessors executive Sholom Rubashkin. PHOTO: The Washington Post/Matthew Putney/AP

By Samuel G. Freedman | 22 December 2017

THE WASHINGTON POST — On a sultry July day nearly a decade ago, I stepped into a Catholic church in the Iowa hamlet of Postville to meet Irma Lopez. The mother of a 2-year-old daughter, she had been arrested along with her husband, Marcelo, several months earlier in a massive raid by federal immigration agents, aimed at the employees of a kosher slaughterhouse in town.

Now her husband was in a detention facility hundreds of miles away, awaiting deportation to Central America. Irma Lopez could remain in Postville only by wearing an ankle bracelet with a homing device as a form of house arrest. There were so many mothers like her that they had their own name —persona con brazelet.

Such was the human face of the social wreckage visited upon Postville by its would-be savior, an Orthodox Jewish executive and rabbi named Sholom Rubashkin. This same man, who was convicted of a $27 million fraud, sentenced to 27 years in prison and ordered to pay $18.5 million in restitution, this week had his term commuted by President Trump.

Besides pandering once more to the Orthodox Jewish portion of his base, Trump acted as a result of a high-powered lobbying effort that included everyone from celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to former attorney general Michael Mukasey. […]

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