Iowa – Court Documents: Ex-Mayor of Postville May Have Tried To Extort Money From Rubashkin

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    File photo Robert Penrod at microphoneIowa – A former Postville mayor may have accepted cash payments from former Agriprocessors executive Sholom Rubashkin while in office, or tried to extort money from the one-time eastern Iowa slaughterhouse chief, according to documents filed in federal court.

    The conflicting accusations are buried in sentencing memos filed by prosecutors and defense lawyers in Rubashkin’s financial fraud case.

    Rubashkin lawyer Guy Cook said his client “flatly denies that he bribed Robert Penrod,” who was Postville’s mayor between 2006 and 2009.

    Penrod, in an interview this week, said he couldn’t remember any exchange of money between himself and Rubashkin.

    “It’s been so long ago, I can’t remember,” said Penrod, who was Postville’s mayor when immigration agents raided Agriprocessors in May 2008. “I can’t comment on it anyway. I really don’t know.”

    Prosecutors are silent about why the mayor might have received money. A court document filed by Rubashkin’s defense indicates that efforts to unionize the plant’s workforce might have led to money changing hands.

    Rubashkin, 50, faces sentencing today for his conviction last year on 86 financial fraud charges. Defense attorneys have asked for a prison term no greater than six years; prosecutors say his actions merit a life sentence.

    It’s unclear from the sentencing documents whether cash changed hands between Rubashkin and Penrod; when any alleged transactions took place; how many payments were made; or what happened to the money.

    Another pre-sentence report written by the former businessman’s probation officer remains confidential. It is not known if that document provides additional detail about any transactions between Rubashkin and Penrod.

    Prosecutors mentioned the alleged cash transaction to bolster their argument that Rubashkin deserves a longer sentence.

    U.S. District Judge Linda Reade can factor such behavior into Rubashkin’s sentence if she believes it, even though Rubashkin was never formally charged with bribery. Reade also can consider offenses for which a defendant was acquitted, or charges that were dismissed.

    Defense lawyers argued that the report mischaracterized Rubashkin’s conduct. The allegations were never noted during Rubashkin’s month-long trial in Sioux Falls, S.D., but the trial included testimony about Rubashkin’s clashes with outsiders trying to unionize his workers.

    In the court documents, prosecutors say Rubashkin made “illicit cash payments” to a former Postville mayor that totaled $15,000 to $20,000.

    Prosecutors, who did not name the mayor, said in the sentencing papers that the alleged transactions took place “during the time the mayor was in office.”

    Bob Teig, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney, said he could not comment on the allegations.

    Rubashkin, in the sentencing papers, denies the bribery allegation but names Penrod as the Postville official in question. Rubashkin says Penrod used a secretly recorded conversation with union officials to pressure Rubashkin into making a loan to Penrod.

    “Rubashkin does not deny that Agriprocessors loaned Penrod money,” defense lawyer Alan Ellis said in sentencing documents. “Agriprocessors made the loan, however, under duress from Penrod who essentially extorted the loans.”

    Ellis said in the documents Penrod approached his client at an unspecified date and played him a tape from a meeting with union officials. The union officials made clear that they would “make life difficult” for Agriprocessors, Ellis wrote. Penrod then suggested that “if the loan was not extended, the city council would make things very difficult for Agriprocessors,” Ellis wrote.

    The threat worried Rubashkin, who had clashed with city officials, Ellis wrote. Rubashkin consulted his brother, Heshy, and their father, Aaron, who approved the loan, the defense papers claim.

    Penrod has not been charged in federal or state court and none of Rubashkin’s federal charges involve bribery.

    In an interview, Penrod said he couldn’t remember the alleged conversation with Rubashkin or an exchange of money. He said he was unaware of any recorded conversation with union officials. Penrod then declined to comment.

    Allamakee County Attorney Mary Jane White said she was unaware of the allegations.

    Penrod, 60, resigned in March 2009 because of an apparent spat over a cell phone purchased with city money and criticism of the council from some city employees.

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    35 COMMENTS

      • Yeah, right. How do you prove someone solicited a bribe? Very few people are fool enough to demand it outright; they drop hints which they can always deny, but you know very well what they mean, and you have no choice but to pay. That is why the Torah does not forbid paying bribes. Nowhere in the Torah will you find any condemnation of one who pays a bribe, let alone a prohibition on paying, because usually the payer has no choice. Paying bribes is often the cost of doing business. The problem is corrupt officials who expect to be bribed, and that is why receiving a bribe is a sin, and paying one is not.

    1. So the banks don’t get charged for complicity in fraud, the ex-mayor doesn’t get charged for bribery or blackmail and extortion, but SMR gets the book thrown at him and faces a life sentence? What does this same about this circus of a trial?

      • My dear friend, the reason they are “thrownig the book at him” is because he decided to go to war with the attorney general. SMR has made a mockery of American laws., and added insult to injury by claiming that he did NOTHING wrong, and that he’s being prosecuted and persecuted because he is jewish. if he would have said, yes I commited bank fraud, tax fraud etc… they probably would have given him 6 months and an ankle bracelet ( Just like the tens of other swindlers and tax cheats in NY and Los Angeles), however he decided to ‘Mosif Cheit Al Pesha’, by claiming his complete innoscense!..

        I hope Hashem has rachmanus on him, for the sake of OUR community

        • Yes, of course – all had to do was say “Yes, I did everything you say i did” and he would have walked free.

          Please.

          He tried that with the immigration thing and look how well it workd.

          • SMR is not being setenced for the illegal aliens, the sentence for this trial, focused on bank fraud, tax fraud, wire fraud, and not paying cattle suppliers on time. Are you suggesting he LIE and claim his innocense, because he was afraid of the time he would need to serve in jail??…so its Ok to lie??!!? If you cant do the Time Don’t do The crime!!!!

            • You see, the problem is, you think you sound sophisticated when saying “If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime”. But you’re not sounding at all sophisticated – you sound dead stupid. The “time” we’re talkin bout here is LIFE! Go back to Yeshiva, go back home, you’re simply a wannabe-sound-sophisticated when in essence you’re nothing more than a näive moron.

            • Now , now no need to resort to insults ..everyone is entitled to their opinion…by the way what is your highest level of education..cheder? high school?

          • The issue with SMR and others like him is the complete and utter disregard for the laws on the books. This chronic, ‘compulsive’ swindling and outrifght thievery that takes place is shocking. Th M.O. of agri,and of other institutions is to evade, lauder and commit fraud. But its not only institutions, entire communities have made a lifestyle out of deception. How many people do we know who are living off welfare/housing and make more than six figures? How many of our ‘Frum’ women claim to be unwed mothers to receive aid from the state and government? Not only is it an outright LIE, but the chillul Hashem that accompanies it is Staggering!. Here these Saintly women who are the epitome of modesty and tznius basically stating they are cohabitating outside the framework of marriage!! again and again and again. All for a few dollars. Not to mention the chillul Hashem caused by accepting Tzedaka from Goyim which is forbidden.
            As was stated, had SMR come clean he would have probably gotten a slap on the wrist, but now his claim of complete innocense only fuels the prosecution more and more…

            • I guess I am completely naive. I am a married woman who gets NO support from the Gov. Both my husband and I work. You meant to tell me if I dont have a civil marriage I can say i am a single mom and get $$ from the gov. is it really that easy? Assuming i would be willing to commit fraud of course.

            • I am a man. I am married and have b”h several children. My wife does not work. We do not claim or get a dime in welfare etc.. B”h I am doing very well and can afford the very nice lifestyle we have. But think of the thousands who are not as lucky as me or you.
              And! I wear a shtreimel etc, my wife wears a covered sheitel. My kids go to schools where I pay. I don’t have my own business, just a (very well) paid employee. So, like me, you are not naive, just normal. Be proud.

        • He would properly do so if he would got a plea bargain as many other u mention how ever in this case they wanted to give him 20 years behind bars why should he admit?

        • It is people like you who are making this as bad as it has become. If you would know the real facts instead of just assuming things you would come to totally different conclusions. This bribe accusation now just shows how messy this is becoming, how the prosecutor is grasping at straws to push his agenda. If the judge does not see thru this then she is also in someone’s pocket. As far as the unions being the cause of this whole case, this was a known fact from the beginning. Only people who chose to not learn the details of the case were not aware of it.

        • Oh my! You sound like that other idiotic self hating”holier than thou” “oiber chochom” Just because you can hide on the internet behind “anonymous” it doesn’t mean you can spout your mouth off with such venom. Go get a life! You may be having fun here but with your fun you may be harming other people. This is something people having fun on the internet forget about!! MILLIONS OF AMERICANS STATE UNTRUE FACTS TO THE BANK INCLUDING YOURSELF AND I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD GO TO PRISON FOR LIFE EVEN THOUGH YOU WONT ADMIT IT IN PUBLIC! (One isn’t allowed to lie to the bank or to anyone but he does not deserve to be sent to prison for life for doing this! especially if he did not do this to lie steal and cheat!)

        • I hope Hashem has rachmonis on YOU for the sake of OUR community! How dare you talk against your fellow yid like that and give chizuk to our enemies. If you have nothing nice to say keep quiet and go volunteer somewhere where you CAN make a difference. This is exactly what Nat Lewin is referring to when he says the reason we are where we are today is bec of the lack of support from Jewish community!

    2. How in heavens name can you sentence a person on things that were never tried in court????Am I missing somethimg here? you can actually go to trial, get convicted on whatever and then get sentenced for other things that never were mentioned in court “just bec the judge believes it”??? Wow, this IS a messed up justice system!!!And it is also VERY SCARY!!

      • You can’t sentence a person for things that were not tried in court. However, given that the sentencing guidelines usually provide a range for a particular sentence, a judge can take into account the defendant’s other actions (both good and bad). It seems reasonable enough to me…

        • “take into account other actions” that were never proved in a court? So if I steal money from you and are proven guilty, you can bring up other things that you “think” I did to bring on a harsher sentence??? and it seems reasonable to you??

    3. This is incredible to me!

      The Mayor uses extortion on Rubashkin, and the book is thrown on Rubashkin?
      The Unions uses extortion on Rubashkin and the book is thrown on Rubashkin?
      And the judge plans to use this against Rubashkin? Based on FALSE allegations?

      And this is leaked to the media, in the 11th hour?
      This is leaked after America has woken up to this targeted persecution and are beginning to speak out?

      G-d in Heaven! This is a Himmel Gishrei.

      And anyone who stands by and does not speak up against this is complicit in it .

      • Right on! The Jewish community as a whole should be ashamed of themselves for not speaking out from the beginning and according to Nat Lewin is the reason we find ourselves where we are today. But not to speak out NOW is allowing your brothers blood to spill!

    4. It is time that the banks stop using BANK FRAUD against their customers. Its worse than a murder rap. What if someone oversells his business idea – did he murder. The government oversells everything. Why aren’t they guilty?

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