LOS ANGELES – Former Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was sentenced to probation in Los Angeles Tuesday for concealing information and lying during an investigation into illegal campaign contributions.
The 61-year-old Republican was sentenced to two years’ probation, 320 hours of community service and a $25,000 fine after being found guilty of lying to federal agents investigating a Nigerian billionaire’s political donations.
Fortenberry resigned his office in March following his convictions on one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators.
After his conviction, he told reporters outside the Los Angeles federal courthouse that the process had been unfair and he would appeal.
According to evidence presented during a seven-day trial, Fortenberry lied to and misled authorities during two interviews conducted by federal officials who were looking into illegal contributions to Fortenberry’s re- election campaign made by the foreign billionaire in early 2016.
Gilbert Chagoury, a foreign national prohibited by federal law from contributing to any U.S. elections, donated $30,000 through “straw donors” who attended a Fortenberry campaign fundraiser in Glendale.
It is illegal for foreign nationals to make contributions to a federal campaign. It also is illegal for the true source of campaign contributions to be disguised by funneling the money through third-party conduits.
Chagoury entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2019 in which he admitted providing about $180,000 that was used to make illegal contributions to four candidates in U.S. elections.
Chagoury paid a $1.8 million fine and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.