April 13, 2024
Appeals Court Overturns DOJ’s Contentious Conviction of Ex-GOP Lawmaker

Appeals Court Overturns DOJ’s Contentious Conviction of Ex-GOP Lawmaker

(Luis CornelioHeadline USA) The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday overturned the criminal conviction of former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., for making false statements to the FBI in an investigation concerning illegal campaign contributions. 

In a unanimous and scathing ruling, a three-judge panel stated that the DOJ should have tried the former Republican lawmaker either in Nebraska or Washington, D.C., rather than in Los Angeles

“The Constitution plainly requires that a criminal defendant be tried in the place where the criminal conduct occurred,” wrote U.S. District Judge James Donato.

“Fortenberry’s trial took place in a state where no charged crime was committed, and before a jury drawn from the vicinage of the federal agencies that investigated the defendant,” he continued. “The Constitution does not permit this. Fortenberry’s convictions are reversed so that he may be retried, if at all, in a proper venue.” 

According to the New York Post, Fortenberry resigned from Congress after his criminal conviction in March 2022. His name was frequently invoked by supporters of former Rep. George Santos, who argued that unlike Fortenberry, Santos was not afforded due process before the House voted to oust him. 

Fortenberry hailed the decision in a statement issued by his attorneys. “We are gratified by the Ninth Circuit’s decision,” Fortenberry said. “Celeste and I would like to thank everyone who has stood by us and supported us with their kindness and friendship.” 

Fortenberry’s downfall began after the DOJ accused him in Oct. 2021 of lying to investigators and concealing information related to foreign campaign contributions. In March of the following year, Fortenberry was convicted on three counts. 

At the time of the conviction, U.S. District Attorney Tracy L. Wilkinson said, “After learning of illegal contributions to his campaign, the congressman repeatedly chose to conceal the violations of federal law to protect his job, his reputation and his close associates.” 

Fortenberry received a two-year probation sentence, a $25,000 fine and approximately 320 hours of community service. Following his conviction, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pushed for Fortenberry’s resignation. 

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