A sentencing hearing took place on April 28 and 29, 2010. Prosecutors had received only a single victim-impact form, despite having mailed them out to many other individuals. Only two victim-impact statements were presented in court, both from representatives of the cattle-supply cooperative that claimed it had lost interest of less than $4000 by being paid late.
Numerous witnesses testified in support of a lenient sentence for Mr. Rubashkin, attesting to his honesty, his charity and generosity, his relationship with his ten children, and his importance to his community. Hundreds of letters were sent to the court by those whose lives had been enhanced by Mr. Rubashkin â€“ even including competitors in the kosher meat industry.
When it appeared from the prosecutionâ€™s initial recommendation that it was suggesting life imprisonment, six former United States Attorneys General and seventeen high-ranking former federal prosecutors and high-ranking Department of Justice officials signed an unprecedented letter to the court declaring that they â€œcannot fathom how truly sound and sensible sentencing rules could call for a life sentence â€“ or anything close to it â€“ for Mr. Rubashkin, a 51-year-old, first-time, non-violent offender whose case involves many mitigating factors and whose personal history and extraordinary family circumstances suggest that a sentence of a modest number of years could and would be more than sufficient to serve any and all applicable sentencing purposes.â€
The prosecution ultimately recommended a sentence of 25 yearsâ€™ imprisonment. The defense suggested a prison term of not more than 6 years. The district court ordered that Sholom Rubashkin be imprisoned for 27 years, two years more than the prosecutors had requested. The judge agreed with the prosecution that the â€œactual lossâ€ was approximately $27 million, including the full sum the bank said it lost on the loan. The prosecution represented that the bank had lost $27 million even though the bank itself had claimed in its civil lawsuit that its loss was only about $21 million. The court determined the sentence entirely on the basis of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, making no post-Guideline adjustment based on the sentencing factors enumerated in 18 U.S.C. Â§ 3553(a).
Specifically, the judge refused to modify the Guidelines calculation even though Appellant had acted not out of greed but to keep his familyâ€™s business afloat and to save the jobs of the plantâ€™s employees. The court explicitly imposed its sentence â€œno matter [Rubashkinâ€™s] motive.â€ The court also ignored the defense contention that a lengthy prison term would create drastic unwarranted sentencing disparities with similarly situated defendants, and it rejected defense requests for downward departures or variances to account for Mr. Rubashkinâ€™s renowned charity or his special relationship with his autistic son.