116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Private investigators apparently working on behalf of former Agriprocessors vice president Sholom Rubashkin have been contacting jurors from his bank fraud case and asking them for assistance in a possible appeal, which violates local rules of court, according to a motion filed Friday in federal court.
Acting U.S. Attorney Sean Berry in the motion claims Rubashkin and his attorneys are prohibited to question trial jurors before, during or after a trial concerning their actual jury service without the trial judge's consent in accordance with the court rules. The government asks Rubashkin to show cause why he shouldn't be ordered to cease from contacting jurors.
Rubashkin, 51, of Postville, was convicted in 2009 by a jury on 86 federal counts of bank, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failure to pay livestock providers in a timely manner. The charges stem from a May 2008 immigration raid at the former Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville. Nearly 400 illegal workers were charged. Rubashkin was sentenced in 2010 to 27 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Chief Judge Linda Reade set a hearing on the motion for Friday but Rubashkin's attorney Paul Rosenberg in Des Moines filed a continuance Tuesday because of a Jewish holiday, Sukkot. The holiday prevents Rubashkin from participating in a hearing Sept. 20, 26 and 27, according to filing.
The government in a reply stated it will leave the date for the hearing up to the discretion of the court.
Iowa State Bar Association President Guy Cook said the hearing will allow the defendant to present specific evidence in support of his position.
"Here, the defendant believes the prohibition of contact was lifted by the court following the verdict permitting jurors to talk with anyone or no one," Cook, who was also Rubashkin's attorney at trial, said.
Reade also filed an order Monday that was sent out to jurors in this case informing them that she did not give permission to Rubashkin or his attorneys to contact them but if they choose to talk to them, it is their discretion.
According to the government's motion, a former juror in the Rubashkin trial called the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids last Thursday, reporting he had been contacted Sept. 10, by an investigator from Iowa who wanted to speak with jurors from the Rubashkin case, according to the motion. The juror told the investigator he had nothing to say.
Then, on Sept. 11, a different man and a woman came to his home and the man said he was a representative with Guidepost Solutions, an investigative firm from New York. He then introduced the woman as Rubashkin's daughter.
The juror said Rubashkin's daughter started to tell him, “in an emotional manner,” about her father's sentence and asked for the juror's assistance, according to the motion. They apparently said an appeal deadline was approaching in Rubashkin's case. The juror said he was asked about a "matter he may have seen" while serving on the jury. Again, the juror said he had nothing to say.
According to the motion, the juror told an assistant U.S. Attorney the incident was “weird” to him and “scared his children.” The juror said he was concerned enough to contact the office. The juror also said he stayed in contact with other jurors from that trial and several of them had been contacted by investigators.
Berry said in the motion he was contacted Aug. 5, by Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Scott Green who was approached by a private investigator Kevin Dill. Dill asked Green about his knowledge of matters related to the Rubashkin case. Dill said he was working for a New York law firm on the “Rubashkin 2255.”
Dill was referring to 28 U.S.C 2255, which is a motion to vacate, set aside or correct a sentence by a person already convicted. A person filing this could claim the sentence imposed was in violation of their constitutional rights, the court was without jurisdiction to impose the sentence or the sentence was in excess of the maximum penalty authorized by law.
Rubashkin's appeals have been denied, including his last appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in October 2012.