An Iowa federal judge and her husband allegedly conspired to enrich themselves by purchasing stock in private prisons, then herding hundreds of immigrants into those prisons during one of the largest immigration raids in U.S. history.
Mother Jones reported Thursday that Judge Linda R. Reade and her husband Michael Figenshaw were already vested in private prisons owned by CoreCivic and GEO Group, but five days prior to the immigration raid on a meatpacking plant in Postville, IA on May 12, 2008, Figenshaw purchased additional shares in the two companies.
The 2008 raid was the largest workplace immigration raid ever, netting 400 undocumented workers who were driven to a fairground in Waterloo and tried en masse, shackled to each other and dragging chains. Reade — the top judge in northern Iowa — presided over the mass trial, which was hit with serious accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.
Reade insisted that the proceedings were fair and unhurried, but hearings were held in just nine days in an ad hoc collection of trailers and even a dance hall. The trials were presided over by a group of judges brought in from other counties and districts.
Normally, defendants in cases like this are charged with civic misconduct and then deported, but under Reade’s jurisprudence, the 400 defendants were “charged with criminal fraud for using falsified work documents or Social Security numbers. About 270 people were sentenced to five months in federal prison, in a process that one witness described as a ‘judicial assembly line,’” wrote Mother Jones‘ Samantha Michaels.
Reade met repeatedly with immigration officials in the months preceding the raid, according to a lawsuit resulting from the raid and subsequent prosecutions. She and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees laid out strategies for charging detainees.
The judge was told to expect around 700 arrests, a number that she happily agreed to, expressing her “full support” for the roundup, arrests and mass trial.
Michaels wrote, “Reade’s husband bought between $30,000 and $100,000 worth of additional CCA and GEO Group stock five days before the Postville raid, according to her financial disclosure forms. When he sold his prison stocks about five months later, they were collectively worth between $65,000 and $150,000.”