Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mrs. Miriam Shear Responds

Guest Post

Yesterday I wrote a post based on an article in the Village Voice which in part involved the Rubashkin family and their intimidating tactics toward Mrs. Miriam Shear and her husband. I made reference to the fact the Mrs. Shear had her share of intimidation in the past via a severe beating on a Jerusalem bus at the hands of some Charedi thugs in Jerusalem.

There were some who questioned whether the Miriam Shear in the Village Voice article was the same Miriam Shear who was so brutally beaten on that Jerusalem bus. I spoke to Mrs. Shear today and she confirmed that she is indeed one and the same person. She has also provided the following which is a clarification of her views. What follows are her unedited words in their entirety:

Let me, please, for the sake of keeping facts straight, address some of the questions raised in the comments section on your article, “The Rubashkins – Jekyll and Hyde”:

1. It is true that my husband and I did receive a settlement from the following entities. They are: Superior Meat (Shloimie Luss), Agri's largest distributor; One Stop Kosher (Shlomo Goldman), a grocery store that leases floor and counter space to Superior Meats; Morris Poultry (Leslie Kleiman), an Empire Chicken distributor and also general distributor of other products; the Vaad HaRabbonim of Detroit; Rabbi Shmuel Irons, the Rosh Kollel; Rabbi Yoel Sperka, a shul rabbi who sat on the "beit din" of 2 - there was no 3rd rabbi as required by halacha; and Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst, who was appointed - without our knowledge or permission - by the other 2 named rabbis; whose name was rubber stamped on a psak even though R. Fuerst never met or spoke with my husband and I ever in his life. The settlement was for anti-trust allegations in the amount of $160,000 - a small sum relative to our losses.

2. The Village Voice article states that my husband and I were major philanthropists. I guess that's a relative matter of definition but I wouldn't describe ourselves that way. Yes, we did give what would be considered, in most circles, lots of tzedeka, and yes, it would have been somewhere in the 6 figures. I honestly do not know what the numbers are as this goes back a few years ago and I was not the primary person in our family disbursing funds to kollels, yeshivas, individuals, etc. If we had it, we distributed it. Unfortunately, due to criminal anti-trust activities by Agri and others, we no longer have it.

3. The Village Voice article states that "hundreds of people" were recipients of our Memphis free kosher food bank. Memphis only has approximately 10,000 Jews. The families that were recipients of free food were approximately 10 - 15. Others got discounted food, some got at cost, and some paid full asking price. Nobody that expressed a need was ever turned away. Need was determined by their own statements or referrals from rabbis and social workers or what we perceived. No documentation was required.

4. After Kosher Case Club was put out of business, we moved to Toronto. I am not Canadian - only Israeli and America. My husband is the Canadian (and Israeli and American).

5. After 2 years in Canada, we moved to Israel this past July 8th and live in the Judean Desert mountains. (It’s a better view than Sholom Rubashkin has right now in his Dubuque County Jail cell.)

6. While the Village Voice article focuses primarily on Agri, there were other distributors who conspired to put KCC out of business, all encouraged by the Rubashkins and/or its affiliates. We had excellent relationships with these distributors prior to Heshy and Sholom Rubashkin's meddling. Some of these distributors very much wanted to continue supplying us but made it clear it was "other pressures". Some were specific - others were not.

7. We received a legal opinion from anti-trust attorney Irwin Alterman who said that the actions of Agri and others violated both federal and state criminal and civil anti-trust laws. This legal opinion was supplied to the Vaad HaRabbanim of Detroit and sent to some of the vendors who were pressured to suspend shipments.

8. The criminal anti-trust antics of Agri and others were so serious, hostile and rampant that we received a signed, sealed, and written psak from a major Rav allowing us to provide information to both federal and state authorities on both criminal and civil actions by Agri and others if we did not receive a settlement to compensate us in full for our losses by July 2006.

9. We have made several attempts to negotiate a settlement with Agri. Our request is reasonable and only requests compensation for the actual dollar amount lost. Our legal counsel contacted Agri’s criminal anti-trust attorney, Mr. David Rosenfield 212-592-1513 in writing demanding reimbursement for our losses. Other affiliated parties made attempts to contact the Rubashkins directly – all to no avail.

10. There are other kosher food suppliers/distributors who, under pressure from Agri and others, suspended shipments to KCC or refused to accept our orders – even those paid with cash up front. Several of them succumbed to this pressure reluctantly and with remorse; others simply went along.

11. I was contacted by Federal authorities from the Federal Food Stamp Program in 2006. I was informed that the actions of Agri and others was not only criminal anti-trust, it was also a violation of the Food Stamp Act, several regulations of the Dept of Agriculture that prohibits interference and access to food products; that these actions are RICO violations; and that such actions are criminal felonies punishable by up to 25 years in a Federal prison and/or a $250,000 fine.

12. Two weeks ago I contacted Gary Torgow of Detroit and informed him that I will be soon be contacting the Federal government concerning the criminal anti-trust activities of Agri and other kosher food vendors. How this will impact the parties to the Mutual Release Agreement is anyone’s guess. What is clear, however, is that when one entity enters an area of criminal activity and engages with others to join them in these illicit endeavors, the ramifications and ripple effect can be far-reaching to those who willingly or unwillingly participated – regardless of their role, title (i.e., rabbi), etc.

13. Neither KCC or my husband and I filed bankruptcy upon KCC’s demise. We still carry the heavy burden of debt from KCC. Vendors who acted in compliance with the law and continued to supply us are still owed money – some of which we are personally signed on. We have stayed in contact with these vendors and apprise them of developments as they occur. All vendors will be paid 100% of debt owing as soon as funds become available. Some vendors have been paid in full, others only partially. These law-abiding vendors are also victims of the criminal anti-trust activities.

14. The Mutual Release Agreement prohibits me from making any disparaging comments concerning the parties to the agreement. Therefore, I cannot respond in full – and sometimes not at all – to certain inquiries. However, there are other fully informed sources who can provide further information. The MRA does not prohibit me from acknowledging that an agreement was executed or what was the amount of the settlement on anti-trust charges. Copies of the MRA are available in PDF format upon request.

15. Neither my husband nor I have ever been convicted of any crime - misdemeanor or felony. In fact, I personally received a clean enough security clearance to 1) Teach at the Detroit Police Academy, 2) Teach electronic security at Oakland County Community College and Macomb County Community College, 3) Was the first female Chair of the American Society of Industrial Security - Detroit Chapter, 4) Was licensed as a burglar and fire alarm contractor in the State of Michigan, 5) Accepted as a participant in Counter-Terrorism Programs administered by the Israeli government, receiving certifications in several areas.

16. For further discussion or comments, please feel free to call me on my Voip line 216-502-2325 (don’t wake me up, please!) or email to: