Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry gets two years of probation

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry was sentenced to two years of probation on Tuesday for lying to federal investigators about illegal campaign donations.

Judge Stanley Blumenfeld said he took into account the statements of many witnesses, including from the prosecution, describing Fortenberry as a man of good character.

“The court is convinced that this wrongful, dishonest choice is out of character for Mr. Fortenberry,” Blumenfeld said a federal courtroom in Los Angeles.

The judge also sentenced Fortenberry to 320 hours of community service and a $25,000 fine.

Fortenberry resigned from Congress in March after he was convicted of three felonies.

The special election to fill his seat was also being held on Tuesday.

Fortenberry’s legal troubles began with a fundraiser in California in 2016.

Toufic Baaklini funneled $30,000 from Gilbert Chagoury, a billionaire who lives in Paris, to people at the fundraiser, who then wrote checks to Fortenberry’s campaign.

Donations from foreigners to U.S. political campaigns are illegal.

On a phone call recorded by the FBI, Dr. Elias Ayoub, who hosted the fundraiser, told Fortenberry that the money probably came from Chagoury.

In two interviews with the FBI, Fortenberry said he did not know that the donations were illegal.

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