Jurors returned the verdict against Sholom Rubashkin, 50, on its second day of deliberations after the nearly monthlong trial. He faces a sentence that could add up to hundreds of years in prison - as well as a second federal trial on 72 immigration charges.
"We respect the jury's hard work. It was a difficult case. We disagree with the verdict," defense attorney Guy Cook said after the decision. "There were many legal errors made by the prosecution in the trial of this case and following sentencing we will appeal."
Prosecutors offered no immediate comment.
Prosecutors had alleged that as a manager of the former Agriprocessors, Inc., plant in Postville, Iowa, Rubashkin intentionally deceived the company's lender.
Former Agriprocessors employees testified that Rubashkin personally directed them to create fake invoices in order to show St. Louis-based First Bank that the plant had more money flowing in than it really did.
Cook argued Rubashkin never read the loan agreement with First Bank and tried to portray Rubashkin as a bumbling businessman in over his head.
During closing arguments, U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan said Rubashkin was aware of the fraud at the plant and to assume otherwise was "ridiculous." Cook said Rubashkin may have practiced business unethically, but never committed a crime.
Over the protests of Rubashkin's defense team, U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade also allowed former employees to testify that days before the immigration raid, Rubashkin scrambled to get new documents for his workers, at least 389 of whom were found to be illegal immigrants.
The plant filed for bankruptcy months after the raid and has since been sold. Prosecutors claim evidence of the massive fraud scheme was uncovered during an investigation by a court-appointed trustee.
Rubashkin's attorneys won a change of venue earlier this year, when the trial was moved from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Sioux Falls.