Republican Jeff Fortenberry claims vindication as court tosses conviction for lying to FBI

 December 27, 2023

Jeff Fortenberry is claiming vindication after an appeals court threw out the former Nebraska Republican's conviction for lying to the FBI. 

The Ninth Circuit Appeals Court ruled that the trial was held in the wrong district. Fortenberry was tried in California despite being accused of lying to investigators at his home in Nebraska and his office in Washington D.C.

Conviction thrown out

The court did not mince words, calling the prosecution blatantly illegal.

“Fortenberry’s trial took place in a state where no charged crime was committed, and before a jury drawn from the vicinage of the federal agencies that investigated the defendant,” Judge James Donato wrote in an opinion, adding that “this outlandish outcome cannot be squared with the Constitution.”

“Fortenberry’s convictions are reversed so that he may be retried, if at all, in a proper venue,” he wrote.

It is not clear whether federal prosecutors will have another crack at it, but Fortenberry is celebrating a victory.

“We are gratified by the Ninth Circuit’s decision,” Jeff Fortenberry said in a statement. “Celeste and I would like to thank everyone who has stood by us and supported us with their kindness and friendship."

Set up?

Fortenberry was forced out of Congress last year after his conviction for lying about an illegal foreign donation he received in 2016.

Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire with ties to the Clinton Foundation, sent Fortenberry $30,000 through straw donors in California.

Chagoury was accused of illegally sending $180,000 donations to four candidates, including Fortenberry. Chagoury agreed to resolve the case with a $1.8 million fine.

At trial, Fortenberry's lawyers said he was the target of a set up - as prosecutors pointed to a June 2018 phone call Fortenberry received from an FBI informant warning him that the donations were illegal.

That call came two years after Fortenberry received the donation - and prosecutors never actually claimed he accepted the donation illegally.

Instead, they said he broke the law by claiming to have no knowledge of an illegal contribution during two separate interviews with the FBI. The interviews happened months after the phone call when he allegedly received that knowledge from the FBI's informant.

Fortenberry vowed to fight the conviction after he was found guilty in March of 2022.

"We always felt like it was going to be hard to have a fair process here, so this appeal starts immediately," he said at the time.

This looks to be another example of overzealous, politically charged prosecution targeting a Republican. The FBI is completely out of control.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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