Rubashkin sentencing hearing moves into second day

A federal judge is expected to issue a judgment in the sentencing of a former kosher meatpacking executive in three to four weeks.

The sentencing hearing in the financial fraud conviction of ex-Agriprocessors official Sholom Rubashkin is set to continue Thursday in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after a full day of testimony Wednesday.

Ten witnesses spoke Wednesday on Rubashkin’s behalf, including a psychiatrist who interviewed him in jail. The psychiatrist said Rubashkin expressed regret for the harm he had caused himself and others, the Des Moines Register reported. Several former business partners and family members also testified.

The Agriprocessors plant in the Iowa town of Postville was the site of a federal raid in May 2008.

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors submitted a sentencing memorandum requesting life imprisonment based on their reading of federal sentencing guidelines. Rubashkin’s attorneys have requested that he be sentenced to no more than six years in prison.

Sentencing memos filed by prosecutors in the case accuse Rubashkin of bribing Robert Penrod, the mayor of Postville. Rubashkin was never charged with bribery, but the presiding judge can take such accusations into account when deciding on a sentence. Rubashkin’s attorneys told the Register that Agriprocessors made a loan to Penrod under duress from the mayor.

Rubashkin supporters held prayer services on his behalf Tuesday night in cities throughout the country and around the world.

Also Tuesday, six former U.S. attorneys general, in a letter to Linda Reade, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, criticized prosecutors’ request that Rubashkin be sentenced to life in prison.