US Congressman Found Guilty of Lying to FBI About Campaign Contribution

Jeff Fortenberry, (R-NE) speaks during U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s testimony during a hearing on the State Department’s 2020 budget request in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019 .REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo

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March 24 (Reuters) – A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska, on three counts on Thursday of lying to the FBI about a billionaire’s foreign campaign contribution Nigerian in 2016.

Prosecutors accused Fortenberry, who was first elected to Nebraska’s 1st congressional district in 2005, of lying to investigators about Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury’s $30,000 campaign contributions.

Federal law prohibits foreign nationals from donating to federal election campaigns.

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A grand jury indictment in October charged Fortenberry with two counts of making false statements to federal investigators and one count of intrigue to falsify and conceal material facts.

Fortenberry, 61, said he told the truth when he spoke to FBI agents at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska about campaign contributions, saying he tried to help them with the investigation.

But evidence during the seven-day trial showed Fortenberry lied and misled authorities during two interviews with federal authorities, the US Department of Justice said in a news release. Chagoury donated the $30,000 to Fortenberry through third-party “straw donors” who attended a fundraiser for the Fortenberry campaign in Los Angeles, the Justice Department said. U.S. District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld allowed Fortenberry to remain free pending sentencing on June 28, determining he was not at risk of fleeing, The Daily Beast reported.

Each conviction carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The conviction does not force Fortenberry out of Congress. He could be expelled with a two-thirds vote of the members.

Defense attorneys for Fortenberry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Reporting by Daniel Trotta. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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