(DailyVantage.com) – A federal appellate court reversed the conviction of former Representative Jeff Fortenberry, arguing that authorities shouldn’t have tried Fortenberry in Los Angeles. Fortenberry represented Nebraska before his conviction, which stemmed from an incident where Fortenberry lied to federal agents about an illegal donation from a foreign donor to his campaign.
A Los Angeles jury convicted Fortenberry in March 2022 for lying about accepting the illegal $30,000 donation to his campaign. Fortenberry received the donation during a fundraiser he held in Los Angeles in 2016, allowing authorities to hold his trial in a Los Angeles courtroom. Days after his conviction, Fortenberry resigned from office due to mounting pressure from fellow representatives and the governor of Nebraska. Fortenberry then appealed the Los Angeles conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the Los Angeles venue wasn’t proper.
According to Fortenberry, he made the false statements to federal authorities in his Lincoln, Nebraska home. Fortenberry also claims that he made false statements in his lawyer’s office in Washington, D.C. Fortenberry’s team argued that the lack of a connection between the false statements from Fortenberry and the Los Angeles venue prevents a Los Angeles court from having jurisdiction over the representative, which the federal appellate court echoed in its decision.
The federal court reversed Fortenberry’s conviction, claiming that the reversal was to allow for another trial in a proper venue, such as Nebraska or Washington, D.C. The court also acknowledged that authorities may not try Fortenberry again, depending on whether prosecutors decide to move forward in a proper venue. A spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office in D.C., Patricia Hartman, refused to provide a statement about the Ninth Circuit court’s ruling and how it could affect federal authorities in Washington.
A jury convicted Fortenberry of concealing information and two counts of providing false information to authorities. Following his conviction, Fortenberry announced his intention to file an appeal. Fortenberry’s trial was the first trial of an active congressman since 2002 when a jury convicted former Representative Jim Traficant of bribery and other felony offenses.
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