Iowa slaughterhouse manager faces charges
Des Moines, Iowa — (AP) - Nearly a thousand new charges have been filed in the state's prosecution of alleged child labor violations at a kosher meatpacking plant in northeast Iowa.
The 954 new charges were filed Jan. 16 against Jeffrey Heasley, a beef production supervisor at the Agriprocessors Inc. plant in Postville.
They include alleged child labor violations of employing minors in a meatpacking establishment and for exposing minors to dangerous or poisonous chemicals.
Last September, the Iowa attorney general's office filed more than 9,000 charges against the plant, its owners and managers. Heasley was not one of the managers charged at that time.
Prosecutors accuse the company of hiring minors and in some cases of having children younger than 16 handle dangerous equipment.
One affidavit in the case says that children were exposed to dry ice and chlorine solutions and that children were operating conveyor belts, meat grinders, circular saws, power washers and power shears.
Heasley was scheduled to appear at a hearing Wednesday.
An attorney for Heasley was not listed in court documents, the Allamakee County Clerk's Office said. A woman who answered the telephone at the Agriprocessors plant said Heasley continues to work there. A message left for him on Monday afternoon at the plant wasn't immediately returned.
The other defendants include the company itself; plant owner Abraham Aaron Rubashkin; his son Sholom Rubashkin, former CEO; human resources manager Elizabeth Billmeyer; and human resource employees Laura Althouse and Karina Freund.
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Sholom Rubashkin can be released from jail if he can post a $500,000 bond.
He has been in custody since November after agents found about $20,000 in a tote bag in his bedroom, as well as passports and birth certificates for some of his children. Agents alleged that Rubashkin planned to flee.
Under terms of his release, Rubashkin would be required to wear an electronic tracking device and must surrender his passport and birth certificate.
Later in the day, prosecutors filed a motion indicating they don't plan to appeal Rubashkin's release.
Agriprocessors - the nation's biggest kosher meatpacking plant - was raided by immigration authorities last May 12. Nearly 400 people were arrested, most of them Guatemalan and Mexican nationals.
The raid created turmoil in the small town as families faced deportation. The company has filed for bankruptcy protection, and the allegations of worker abuse prompted some Jews to call for a certification program to protect workers and the environment in the kosher food industry, which is already subject to strict dietary laws.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)