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New indictment filed in kosher slaughterhouse case

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)--Former Iowa kosher slaughterhouse manager Sholom Rubashkin has been named in a new 79-count indictment filed March 31 that consolidates many previously filed charges and dismisses two other counts.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids replaces a previously filed 99-count indictment. Rubashkin is named in 78 of the 79 counts included in the indictment.

The U.S. attorney's office said the charges are the result of an investigation that began in October 2007 and has continued since the May 12 immigration raid at the Postville plant that resulted in the arrest of 389 people.

In addition to the federal charges against Rubashkin, Agriprocessors and top managers have been accused of violating state and federal laws dealing with child labor, wage requirements and safety rules. The company filed for bankruptcy protection and has been appointed a third-party overseer.

Also named in the indictment are three co-defendants--Brent Beebe, Hosam Amara and Zeev Levi--who worked at the plant.

The indictment consolidates many of the previously filed counts and dismissed one bank fraud charge and an unlawful flight to avoid prosecution charge against Amara.

Rubashkin is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens, one count of harboring undocumented aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit document fraud, and multiple counts of aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, bank fraud, false statements and reports to a bank, money laundering and willful violation of order of secretary of agriculture.

Beebe, Amara and Levi are charged with conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens, harboring undocumented aliens and conspiracy to commit document fraud.

Beebe and Amara also are charged with aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.

Rubashkin's attorney Guy Cook says Rubashkin will plead not guilty to the new charges.

"Mr. Rubashkin denies he committed any of the alleged crimes," Cook said. "He's presumed innocent and is indeed innocent."

Cook said the new indictment won't likely affect his preparation for trial, which hasn't been scheduled.

"We will have to study more closely the language of the indictment but probably not," Cook said. "These charges are just like the old ones and just that, charges and proof of nothing."

The indictment alleges that Rubashkin made false certifications to a bank for a loan knowing that Agriprocessors was harboring illegal workers. He also is accused of diverting about $26.4 million in customer payments that were part of collateral on a $35 million loan.

Rubashkin also is accused of transferring $9.6 million through a bank account for the Torah Education of Northeast Iowa--a group that funds Jewish education--to conceal the fraudulent scheme. And the indictment alleged that Rubashkin caused about $10.6 million to be transferred through a local kosher grocery store for the same purpose.

Prosecutors said Rubashkin also failed to comply with the agriculture secretary's order to pay for livestock on a timely basis as required by federal law.

Attorneys for Rubashkin and the company have filed a motion to separate the immigration, bank fraud and stockyard charges, and a ruling is pending.

State prosecutors recently agreed to delay state charges on child labor law violations. Trial on those charges had been scheduled for April 20.

Prosecutors also filed an indictment March 31 charging former Agriprocessors human resources manager Elizabeth Billmeyer with one count of conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit and one count of knowingly accepting false alien cards.



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