Jury finds Fortenberry guilty on all three charges

Bayley Bischof spoke with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry shortly after the jury found him guilty on all three charges.
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 8:24 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2022 at 8:51 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A California jury convicted Nebraska’s 1st District Congressman Jeff Fortenberry Thursday, for lying to the FBI about illegal campaign donations.

After just two hours of deliberation, the jury found Fortenberry guilty of all three charges: one count of scheming to falsify or conceal material facts and two counts of making a false statement to a government agency.

It was an emotional courtroom when the verdict was read. Fortenberry hugged his wife and their daughters shed tears.

Fortenberry spoke with 10/11 shortly after the verdict. He introduced his family and read a text from one of his daughters. He expressed pride for his wife’s bravery during her testimony. He thanked his wife and expressed appreciation for the support he’s received all throughout the trial.

“I’m getting so many beautiful messages from people literally all around the world who’ve been praying for us and pulling for us,” Fortenberry said. “We always felt like it was going to be hard to have a fair process here, so this appeal starts immediately.”

Fortenberry: "This appeal starts immediately."

Fortenberry is out on bond until sentencing on June 28 in California. Fortenberry faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. He could also face no jail time at all.

Jury selection in the trial began March 16. The defense called its final witnesses Thursday, including Fortenberry’s wife, Celeste. The jury heard closing arguments Thursday afternoon.

Fortenberry did not testify in his own defense.

Prosecutors argued Fortenberry lied to the FBI as they investigated illegal contributions made by a foreign national to Fortenberry’s 2016 re-election campaign.

Prosecutor Mack Jenkins: "Lawmakers should follow the law."

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