American Greed Episode 45: The Slaughterhouse

Case File

The Slaughterhouse

  • The Slaughterhouse
  • A Brooklyn family business "saves" an Iowa town. A slaughterhouse opens in Postville employing hundreds of workers. Agriprocessors becomes the largest kosher slaughterhouse in the country. But there are complaints about the mistreatment of workers and the hiring of illegal immigrants.
  • The Businessman
  • Sholom Rubashkin runs his family's business. It's a niche market. Sholom is willing to do whatever it takes to keep costs down. He discourages unions and labor organizers. The plant brings in more than $300 million in annual sales.
  • The Controversy
  • Rumors persist. There are allegations of animal abuse and worker exploitation. The pace is relentless and injuries are common. Sholom pays immigrant workers in cash, off the books. He also oversees a complex accounting scheme allowing him to borrow money.
  • The Raid
  • Sirens shatter the morning stillness as federal agents swarm into Postville. Hundreds of illegal immigrants are taken away in chains. Nearly 20 percent of the town's population disappears and Agriprocessors spirals into bankruptcy. And, that's just the beginning...

Web Extras

  • American Greed - Episode 45

    By many accounts Sholom Rubashkin, was a pillar of the community, but underneath the facade lies a massive $26 million dollar fraud.

  • The Slaughterhouse

    Controversy surrounded a slaughterhouse in a small Iowa town. Hear the story of how Agriprocessors' supervisors exploited the lack of oversight at the plant.

  • Sholom Rubashkin

    Sholom Rubashkin ran Agriprocessors, a controversial slaughterhouse in a small Iowa town. Rubashkin was sentenced in connection with a $26 million dollar bank fraud. Defense lawyers explain why his sentence was unique.

  • rubashkin_sholom_200.jpg

    When Sholom Rubashkin was sentenced in June, 2010, to 27 years in prison for financial fraud, it was two years more than prosecutors sought. It also was unusually high when compared to recent financial crimes — longer than the term for Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, or of Dennis Kozlowski, the former chief executive of Tyco.

  • The Rubashkins respond to PETA’s allegations of kosher slaughter violations.

  • After the May 2008 ICE raid, Agriprocessors is forced to declare bankruptcy. Read owner Aaron Rubashkin’s own words regarding the failure of the company.