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Ex-GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry sentenced to probation for lying to feds about illegal campaign funds

Fortenberry resigned from his Nebraska seat in March.

Published: June 28, 2022 2:14pm

Updated: June 28, 2022 3:07pm

Former GOP Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation, a $25,000 fine, and 320 hours of community service for lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign contribution.

Fortenberry, of Nebraska, who resigned in March after a California jury found him guilty of corruption, was sentenced by a federal judge in Los Angeles. The 61-year-old has maintained his innocence and says he will appeal the case.

Judge Stanley Blumenfeld Jr. said the former congressman "chose the wrong path."

"He decided to respond with dishonesty rather than honesty, and lying, especially in this context, is certainly a serious matter," said the central California district judge.

Blumnenfeld added that he believes the ex-congressman's actions were not representative of his usual conduct and that Fortenberry is generally "a man of exceptional character," a view held even by the prosecution witnesses. 

Following the sentencing, Fortenberry approached Blumenfeld to thank him for reading the letters of support people sent and for noting his ambition and character.

Standing outside the courthouse, Fortenberry said, "This has been very traumatic and we’ve got a way to go," according to the Associated Press. "But I am grateful that ... the judge recognized that the pattern of what I wanted to do with my life was simply to serve in public office and to try to help people."

Fortenberry's attorneys had been seeking probation, while the prosecution had requested six months in prison.

Prosecutors alleged that Fortenberry lied to federal agents multiple times about a $30,000 illegal campaign donation he received from a Nigerian billionaire at a 2016 fundraiser in Los Angeles. 

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