DCI investigator asked to guess ages of Agriprocessors workers

2010-05-27T16:15:00Z 2013-05-08T16:13:22Z DCI investigator asked to guess ages of Agriprocessors workersBy JEFF REINITZ, jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO --- Defense attorneys for Sholom Rubashkin quizzed the state's lead investigator over the age of Guatemalan and Mexican immigrants detained in the 2008 Agriprocessors raid Thursday.

Showing Agent Jon Turbett dozens of mug shots one-by-one, attorney Mark Weinhardt asked if the people pictured looked over or under age 18.

Turbett, with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, examined the photos, sometimes concluding accurately, sometimes missing the mark Thursday as Rubashkin's child labor trial continued.

"These are hard to pick out, aren't they?" Weinhardt asked.

"Some more than others," Turbett responded.

Weinhardt showed another photo, and Turbett guessed he was close to 18.

The defense attorney said he was 17. "Hard to draw that line, isn't it?" Weinhardt said. He then suggested the agent try to guessing ages for people wearing frocks and hard hats.

Rubashkin is charged with 83 counts of child labor violations stemming from 31 teens who worked at the Postville meatpacking plant.

The defense claimed that state is trying to prosecute Rubashkin solely on his ability to guess the ages of workers at his facility.

Other witnesses included Rabbi Moses Weissmandel, who was in charge of the kosher certification at Agriprocessors. He told jurors the difference between the Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox Jewish groups and the Conservative and Reform Jewish groups.

The Rubashkin family would fall under Ultra Orthodox, said Weissmandel. He said Conservative groups were trying to get involved in the certification process.

He also testified that he had toured the plant and didn't notice any underage workers.

There will be no trial Friday, because the courts are closed for a furlough because of budget reasons. There will no trial Monday because of the Memorial Day holiday.

EARLIER STORY:

WATERLOO --- Testimony that an Agriprocessors supervisor told Sholom Rubashkin about minors working at the Postville slaughterhouse came as a surprise to investigators who handled the child labor case.

Rubashkin, a former Agriprocessors executive, is on trial for 83 counts of child labor violations. He also is awaiting sentencing on federal fraud convictions.

On Thursday, Special Agent Jon Turbett with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation told jurors that supervisor Matthew Derrick never told him about a meeting he had with Rubashkin.

Derrick testified two weeks ago that he approached Rubashkin about a boot that was put on his vehicle to immobilize it in the company parking lot. He said during that discussion he told Rubashkin there were minors working at the facility, and the executive didn't seem to care.

The defense claims the only time Derrick mentioned that discussion was when he took the stand.

Turbett, who was called to the stand by the defense Thursday, said he had interviewed Derrick after the raid, and Derrick never mentioned the exchange he allegedly had with Rubashkin.

He also said the topic never came up when he made arrangements to bring Derrick back to Iowa to testify.

Derrick also came up during a brief hearing while the jury was out of the courtroom. Rabbi Zvi Bass told the court he once saw Derrick kissing one of the female workers, who later was found to be a minor, at the plant. Bass said he sometimes saw Derrick standing close to the female worker, and once Derrick talked proudly of how he was able to get her transferred to a better assignment.

Judge Nathan Callahan ruled against the defense's attempt to get that part of Bass' testimony in front of the jury.

Callahan also barred testimony parts of testimony from Ana McCarthy, a Panamanian native who is a Spanish language translator now living in Illinois.

Outside the presence of the jury, McCathy, a Jew, said she traveled to Postville in August after hearing about the raid.

She described waiting at the St. Bridget's Catholic Church rectory and overhearing a worker with an advocacy group telling former Agriprocessors employees that they could get visas to remain in the country and avoid deportation if they claimed they were abused by Rubashkin. She said the worker told people that Rubashkin was a "filthy Jew" who got rich at their expense.

Callahan ruled against allowing the testimony because there was nothing to show that the advocacy worker had talked to any of the minor workers who were called as prosecution witnesses.

In other testimony, a woman from New York who had a son at the Jewish school in Postville, told jurors she approached both plant officials and Rubashkin about getting a job at the plant for her 17-year-old son. She said both turned her down because he was too young.

 

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. timbrackett
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    timbrackett - May 28, 2010 8:46 am
    I pray that the United States never falls on such hard times that our teenagers flee to another country and lie about their age so they can earn a decent income.
  2. yodasteacher
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    yodasteacher - May 27, 2010 3:41 pm
    I think a better caption for the photo would be. "The attorney asked the defendant to tell the court what age he thought it was appropriate to start in the meat industry"
  3. gchrv
    Report Abuse
    gchrv - May 27, 2010 1:20 pm
    If you would like to see an interesting perspective the the trial read this:

    http://chabad.info/index.php?url=article_en&id=19056

    A must read!
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