Fortenberry Retrial Set For February In Washington, DC


     Former Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry is scheduled to go to trial next February in Washington, DC, on charges of lying to FBI agents about an illegal donation he received for his 2016 campaign.

      Fortenberry made his first court appearance on the charges last Thursday and formally entered a plea of Not Guilty. The judge then set the trial date. The ex-congressman remains free on a personal bond.

      Fortenberry was convicted by a federal jury in California of similar charges in 2022, but a federal appeals court panel overturned the convictions. 

      The judges ruled Fortenberry should have been tried in Nebraska or Washington, the places where the statements had been made, and not in California, where the fundraiser took place and where the original investigation was based.

     The 5-year statute of limitations to bring charges for the Nebraska statements ran out 4 days after the Appeals Court ruling, but a grand jury in Washington indicted him May 8 for falsifying and concealing material facts and making false statements. 

       The indictment beat the statute of limitations on Fortenberry’s statements to investigators in Washington by 10 weeks., 

        All the charges stem from an investigation into contributions to multiple candidates by a controversial Nigerian billionaire. It’s illegal for U.S. elected officials to accept foreign money

      Fortenberry received $30,000 and eventually donated it to charity after learning of the source. The FBI says he lied to agents in interviews in both Nebraska and Washington about when he learned about the contribution.

      Fortenberry resigned from the U-S House a week after his conviction and was eventually sentenced to probation, community service, and a $25,000 fine. He and others have continually called the case “overzealous prosecution.”