Judge denies Fortenberry a dismissal; case proceeding to trial in February

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 4:58 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Fortenberry defense team has been arguing why the case in California should be dismissed and the lead prosecutor, an assistant U.S. attorney kicked off the case.

The judge ruled on five of the reasons. He denied all of them.

Nebraska’s longest-serving congressman, Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln was indicted in October, accused of lying to the FBI. The case stems from a $30,000 donation to the congressman’s re-election campaign in a 2015 California fundraiser.

The money came from a foreign national, which is against the law to accept those dollars. The government alleges that after an informant told the congressman about the questionable funds, the nine-term Nebraska congressman failed to correct federal election forms and later lied to the FBI about the details of the call.

The U.S. attorney says it’s all on tape.

Congressman Fortenberry says he cooperated with the FBI and is shocked and stunned that his answers could be interpreted as anything else. Fortenberry’s defense team argued that because the interviews with the FBI took place in Lincoln, Nebraska and Washington, D.C., the trial should be held in one of those locations instead of California.

The federal judge denied the claim saying it’s proper to try the case in Los Angeles because that’s where the fundraiser was held.

In one of the other motions, the judge rejected the defense motion that the government was piling on charges. He ruled there was a rhyme and reason for the different counts.

The defense also wanted the lead prosecutor dismissed from the case.

The judge said no, adding it’s not unusual for a main investigator to prosecute the case, that alone doesn’t disqualify them since the defense team can always call one of the other investigators there during the Fortenberry interviews to testify.

The case remains on schedule with a trial date of Feb. 15.

“This case still has enormous flaws, which have existed from the earliest days of the investigation and remain even after today’s decision. Mr. Fortenberry has always had great faith in the American people’s ability to judge what is fair and just. Nebraskans will see this case clearly for what it is: a California prosecutor’s attempt to use deceptive investigative tactics to set up a widely-respected Member of Congress.”

Spokesman for Rep. Fortenberry’s campaign

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