IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A bankruptcy judge approved the sale of a kosher slaughterhouse on Monday that was subject to a massive immigration raid last year that led to the arrests of 389 people. Judge Paul J. Kilburg, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Cedar Rapids, approved the $8.5 million sale of Agriprocessors, Inc., to SHF Industries, a company formed in May by Canadian plastics manufacturer Hershey Friedman and his son-in-law, Daniel Hirsch.

The sale ends months of speculation about the future of the plant in Postville, about 150 miles northeast of Des Moines.

The plant, which has now has about 100 full-time workers, will continue producing kosher meat, Friedman has said. He did not immediately respond to a phone message Monday seeking comment. Hirsch will be the SHF's managing director, according to court papers.

SHF Industries bought Agriprocessors in an auction for $8.5 million, putting all the money Agriprocessors owed after declaring bankruptcy into one corporation. Since SHF Industries took on Agriprocessors' $21 million in debt - at a significantly cheaper price - it now owns the company assets valued at about $25 million.

The sale also included assets in New York and Florida; the assets in those states and Iowa have served as collateral for the two loans from St. Louis-based First Bank and MLIC Asset Holding of New York City, which is affiliated with Metropolitan Life Insurance.

Bankruptcy trustee Joe Sarachek has said the Agriprocessors assets in the sale are worth about $25 million.

The sale was expected to be completed last week, but a technicality concerning the sale agreement held up the proceedings.

SHF Industries will take on the meatpacking operation, all the trademarks and brands of the Agriprocessors kosher meat operation, and may "investigate and evaluate" buying some of Rubashkin's holdings in Postville, including his bankrupt real estate firm, Nevel Properties. As a condition of the sale, SHF Industries had to disclose any relationship with Agriprocessors or Rubashkin. In the disclosure document, Hirsch denied any relationship to either and said neither would have an ownership interest in the plant or SHF Industries after the sale.

Hirsch also said in the disclosure document that the company will adopt "a comprehensive screening and compliance program" to make sure the company is complying with immigration laws, but Hirsch wasn't specific about how he'd achieve this. One condition of the sale was that SHF Industries institute an immigration-compliance program.

Another Agriprocessors asset, the Local Pride meatpacking plant in Gordon, Neb., is not a part of the sale and will be sold separately.

Agriprocessors and several of its managers, including owner Aaron Rubashkin and his son, plant manager Sholom Rubashkin, face charges stemming from the May 2008 raid.

Prosecutors charged Aaron Rubashkin, his son Sholom, three former managers and the company itself with more than 9,000 charges of child labor violations. All have pleaded not guilty.

Sholom Rubashkin and three co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to immigration, bank fraud, wire fraud and mail fraud charges.Two former managers have pleaded guilty to charges they helped hire illegal immigrants.

City Clerk Administrator Darcy Radloff said Monday that SHF Industries has not contacted the city, but said she hopes they will sit down with members of the local government now that the sale is official. "We're relieved it's moving forward, we've been in a kind of limbo since (the bankruptcy filing)," Radloff said. "We're hoping for more open communication with them, and we look forward to sitting down with them."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.