Fortenberry files motion to toss conviction

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry speaks to the media after being found guilty in federal court in...
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry speaks to the media after being found guilty in federal court in California of lying to the FBI. (File photo)
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 5:44 PM CDT
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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (WOWT) - A month after former Congressman Jeff Fortenberry was found guilty of lying to the FBI, his attorneys have filed a motion for acquittal.

According to court documents filed Monday, his lawyers are arguing that the prosecution didn’t prove Fortenberry’s statements were material to the case, saying they failed to influence a governmental decision.

“The law does not criminalize every false statement that is made to the government. Nor does it criminalize any act of concealment from the government,” the motion states.

Fortenberry’s filing also argues that a false statement or concealment isn’t material just because it prompted an investigation and criticizes the prosecution for calling only the FBI and the IRS, the agencies that conducted the interviews — but not a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s Office — to establish the former Congressman’s statements as material during its arguments.

FBI Agent Todd Carter “could have asked any number of more precise questions, such as whether the Congressman had ever been ‘told’ or ‘had reason to think’ that his campaign received improper contributions. For some reason, Agent Carter chose not to do so,” the document states.

The government is required to file its opposition by May 25, with the defense allowed to file a response by June 14. The motion is slated to be heard June 28, which is the same day Fortenberry is scheduled for sentencing — and the same day the special election will be held in Nebraska to fill his seat.

Fortenberry, who resigned his office on March 26, is currently on release.

Read the motion

Political and investigative reporter Brian Mastre and Assistant News Director Cassie Crowe contributed to this report.

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