Trump issues first commuted prison sentence

Trump issues first commuted prison sentence

There was joyous celebration and expressions of gratitude throughout the Jewish community on Wednesday evening, at the conclusion of Chanukah, after news spread that President Donald Trump had commuted the sentence of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin to time served.

A massive federal immigration raid in 2008 at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, led to the arrest of almost 400 undocumented Guatemalans and Mexican workers.

Rubashkin won his freedom because of an impressive campaign dating back to 2012 after an appellate court chose to let a 27-year sentence stand on the first-time, non-violent offender.

In 2008, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security raided the plant and arrested almost 400 workers who lacked proper documentation.

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The release stated that the action is not a presidential pardon. His conviction remains in place and he will be under a term of supervised release and a major restitution obligation despite being released from prison.

Last year, more than 100 former judges, attorneys general and prominent politicians signed a letter supporting Rubashkin, who was running the country's largest slaughterhouse at the time of his arrest. Rubashkin's supporters also included more than 100 highly placed members of the legal community, from the Department of Justice to judges and scholars.

Robert Teig, who served as a spokesman for the USA attorney's office in Iowa, said that Rubashkin's sentence "was what he earned because of his conduct".

The White House said the clemency was "encouraged by bipartisan leaders from across the political spectrum", from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to Republican Sen. Agriprocessors fell into financial hardship following the raid and was veering into bankruptcy, forcing Rubashkin to sell it.

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The Chabad-Lubavitch movement and other Orthodox Jewish groups have since petitioned for Rubashkin's release, claiming that the sentence was harshly unjust.

"It's been a very long story with a lot of downs for our family", said Meir Rubashkin of Sholom Rubashkin's 10 children.

Attorneys for Rubashkin filed several appeals, even asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case but were denied.

Canadian billionaire Hershey Friedman, of Montreal, purchased the meatpacking plant in 2009 and rebranded it as Agri Star Meat and Poultry.

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One of those prosecutors, former assistant US attorney in Iowa Robert Teig, told the Des Moines Register that Rubashkin "couldn't win legally, factually or morally, so he had to win politically".

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