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WATERLOO - Former Agriprocessors executive Sholom Rubashkin will be sentenced to 27 years behind bars in connection with federal bank fraud convictions Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids.

Although the proceedings are slated to start at 3:30 p.m., Judge Linda Reade announced the punishment in an order issued Monday morning.

The sentence - which was above the 25 years the government had suggested and a far cry from the six years the defense was seeking - drew criticism from Rubashkin's defense team and family.

"It is heartbreaking to see the judge and the prosecution make an example out of Sholom Rubashkin at the expense of his family and community," his wife, Leah, said. "What has happened today is inconsistent with the idea of equal justice under the law."

Defense attorney Guy Cook called the punishment a life sentence for the 51-year-old Rubashkin.

Authorities said Rubashkin, who was described as the CEO and co-vice president of Agriprocessors when it was raided by immigration officials in May 2008, instructed employees to alter company records so a bank would continue loaning Agriprocessors money after the raid.

He was convicted of 86 fraud-related counts in November following trial. A two-day sentencing hearing started in April, and Judge Reade delayed her judgment until today,

In the meantime, he was acquitted of state child labor charges in June following a trial in Waterloo.

In her 52-page order filed Monday, Reade sentenced Rubashkin to 27 years - about one year for every $1 million in losses - in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.

There is no parole in the federal prison system.

She also ordered him to pay $18.5 million in restitution to First Bank Business Capital, $8.3 million to MB Financial Bank and $3,800 to Waverly Sales Inc.

She declined to impose a fine in connection with the case.

Rubashkin's attorneys have vowed to appeal the sentence.

Cook noted that others convicted of similar crimes have received lighter sentences. Mark Turkcan, president of First Bank Mortgage of St. Louis, who misapplied loans for a loss of $25 million, was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison. Financier Michael Milken received two years for $500 million in losses, Cook said.

"This sentence is greater than necessary, indeed it is greater than what the government asked for," Cook said.

He said Rubashkin looks forward to appealing both the sentence and the underlying charges.

"He's calm. He's focused, and he recognizes that ultimately what happens here is in the hands of his God," Cook said.

The defense team would like to see Rubashkin assigned to the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, N.Y,, because of its experience in accommodating the religious observations of Ultra Orthodox Jews. Failing that, they would like to see him housed at the institution in Fort Dix, N.J., Cook said.

Wife Leah Rubashkin said the family plans to leave Postville in the event he is imprisoned on the East Coast.

"We will be relocating the New York area to be close to Sholom if that's where he will be," she said.

"This has been very hard on our children, especially my two youngest children who sleep with me every night and have been very deeply affected by all this," Leah Rubashkin said.

She said it has been hardest on their 17-year-old autistic son.

"He can't really understand what he feels and what it's all about... He's been regressing terribly, and it's heartbreaking to watch this," she said.

Reade determined the actual amount of losses involved in the fraud was $26.8 million.

Sholom Rubashkin allegedly directed company employees to create false invoices, divert customer accounts receivable and misrepresent Agriprocessors's compliance with the law, Reade wrote in her ruling. The result was that FBBC make loans it believed was secure by collateral.

 

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