Jun 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Fortenberry avoids jail time for lying to federal agents

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., speaks as the House Rules Committee.

Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) will serve two years of probation and pay a $25,000 fine for lying to federal agents about illegal campaign contributions, AP reports.

Why it matters: Prosecutors had sought a six-month prison sentence for Fortenberry, per AP. The charges against the former lawmaker, who served for nearly two decades in the House, could have seen him face up to 15 years, the Omaha World-Herald notes.

Details: Judge Stanley Blumenfeld said prison wasn't necessary in Fortenberry's case due to his character, per the World-Herald. Blumenfeld said the fact that the crimes ruined Fortenberry's career was enough deterrent to anyone who might commit a similar crime.

Catch up quick: Back in October 2021, Fortenberry was indicted on charges that he falsified records and lied to FBI agents about receiving $30,000 in donations from the Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire Gilbert Chagoury.

  • In March 2021, a federal jury in California found the former congressman guilty on two counts of making false statements and one more count of concealing information. Each count carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
  • Fortenberry, who argued the prosecution was politically motivated, resigned from his House seat in March after he was convicted.

What we're watching: Fortenberry has maintained his innocence and said he plans to appeal the ruling, per AP.

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