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U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry guilty on all counts

Nebraska Congressman-Campaign Contributions
Posted at 8:46 PM, Mar 24, 2022

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (KMTV) — U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has been found guilty on all counts in a federal trial being held in Los Angeles.

Fortenberry's charges include two felony counts of lying to federal agents, and a third for "scheming" to conceal $30,000 in illegal campaign contributions, which he obtained from Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury in 2016.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that it took just two hours after closing arguments for the jury to deliberate and return the guilty verdict Thursday night.

A key foundation in the prosecution's argument centered around a 2018 phone call between Fortenberry and Dr. Elias Ayoub, who hosted the fundraiser where Fortenberry received the illegal campaign donation. During the call, which was recorded by the FBI, Ayoub mentioned multiple times that the donation was "probably" from a foreigner, and Fortenberry acknowledged. The jury heard the recording of this call several times throughout the trial.

The jury heard testimony earlier in the day Thursday from Fortenberry's wife, Celeste Fortenberry, that cellular service at the Fortenberry home in Lincoln was "spotty" and that Jeff frequently was distracted with chores during fund-raising calls.

Fortenberry faces up to five years in prison for each count, though he could also be eligible for supervised release. Sentencing will occur on June 28.

This story is developing. 3 News Now will provide an update when more information becomes available.

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