Monday, May 10, 2010

Rubashkin trial on state child labor violations begins 

A jury in Black Hawk County District Court heard two very different stories Monday about the former day-to-day manager at a northeastern Iowa meatpacking plant who stands accused of violating state child labor laws.

Sholom M. Rubashkin, 51, who is awaiting sentencing on 86 federal fraud charges, began trial today on 83 charges related to child labor laws — a much condensed version of thousands of charges which were filed by the state in the wake of a massive immigration raid at the meatpacking plant in 2008.

Laura Roan, assistant Iowa attorney general, showed the jury photos of more than 30 young people the state contends were workers at the Agriprocessors plant. The young people, some only 13, worked long hours at the plant during a six-day work-week, she said, and were often exposed to dangerous equipment and substances.

F. Montgomery Brown, attorney for Rubashkin, argued that his client was not aware that underage workers were employed in the plant, and continued an “amateur” line of defense that has been a key focus of the federal case against Rubashkin. That is, according to defense attorneys, Rubashkin was in over his head when it came to managing the plant, a job he took only due to extreme pressure from his father, the company founder.

Roan described how children, working 16-hour days, would use electric saws on the “disassembly” line in the plant, and how some became ill after exposure to the chemicals used in the plant to kill potential meat pathogens.

Witnesses, including several Guatemalans from Postville, are expected to deliver testimony this afternoon. Because federal immigration charges against Rubashkin have been set aside, this will likely be the only time such witnesses have an opportunity to deliver statements about the plant in open court.

Rubashkin, who was originally set to be housed in the Black Hawk County Jail, is being bussed from the Linn County Jail to the Black Hawk County Courthouse — a distance of roughly 55 miles. Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson said religious demands made by Rubashkin, who subscribes to Hasidic Judaism, were too excessive, and that the facility transferred Rubashkin back to the Linn County facility where his needs were better understood.


zol shoin zein di Geulah !


rubashkin's lawyers better come up with a stronger defense then his being an "amateur" if they even hope to get him off.


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