By Associated Press
October 19, 2021
The indictment says U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry falsely told investigators that helium wasn't alert of amerciable run contributions.
A national expansive assemblage connected Tuesday indicted U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, accusing him of lying to the FBI and concealing accusation from national agents who were investigating run contributions funneled to him from a Nigerian billionaire.
The U.S. attorney's bureau announced that the national expansive assemblage successful Los Angeles had indicted the nine-term Republican connected 1 complaint of scheming to falsify and conceal worldly facts and 2 counts of making mendacious statements to national investigators.
The indictment stems from an FBI probe into $180,000 successful amerciable run contributions from Gilbert Chagoury. The contributions were funneled done a radical of Californians from 2012 done 2016 and went to 4 U.S. politicians, including $30,200 to Fortenberry successful 2016 and $10,000 to then-Rep. Lee Terry, who represented the Omaha country successful 2014.
The indictment alleges that a cohost of the 2016 fundraiser told Fortenberry that the donations astir apt did travel from Chagoury, but Fortenberry ne'er filed an amended run study with the Federal Election Commission arsenic required. It says helium aboriginal "made mendacious and misleading statements" to national investigators during the March 23, 2019 interview.
According to the indictment, Fortenberry falsely told investigators that helium wasn't alert of an subordinate of Chagoury being progressive successful amerciable contributions, that the donors were publically disclosed and that helium wasn't alert of immoderate contributions from a overseas national.
In a 2nd interrogation successful July 2019, the indictment says Fortenberry denied that helium was alert of immoderate illicit donation made during the 2016 fundraiser.
In a YouTube video posted Monday night, Fortenberry said helium was "shocked" and "stunned" by the allegations and asked his supporters to rally down him. Knowingly making mendacious statements to a national cause is simply a felony, punishable by up to 5 years successful prison.
"We volition combat these charges," helium said successful the video, filmed wrong a 1963 pickup motortruck with his wife, Celeste, and their dog, against a backdrop of corn. "I did not prevarication to them. I told them what I knew. But we request your help."
Fortenberry's run has said helium didn't cognize the donations, which the run received during a fundraiser successful Los Angeles, originated with Chagoury.
Fortenberry, of Lincoln, said FBI agents from California came to his location astir 2 1/2 years agone aft helium had been retired dealing with a large tempest that had conscionable deed Nebraska. He said they questioned him astir the contributions past and successful a follow-up interview.
"I told them what I knew and what I understood," helium said.
Fortenberry represents the state's 1st Congressional District, a heavy Republican country that includes Lincoln, surrounding farmland and tiny towns successful eastbound Nebraska. Fortenberry was archetypal elected to the spot successful 2004. He won his past predetermination successful 2020 with 60% of the ballot and has mostly defeated Democratic challengers by lopsided margins.
His connection that helium expected to beryllium indicted was archetypal reported by the Omaha World-Herald.
His wife, Celeste, said successful a connection emailed to supporters that the anticipated indictment "has each the marks of being a governmental attack, a bogus complaint manufactured to instrumentality him out."
The FBI probe began during the medication of erstwhile President Donald Trump, a chap Republican. Celeste Fortenberry said her hubby spoke with the agents voluntarily, without a lawyer, due to the fact that helium was nether the content that the agents needed his assistance to get to the bottommost of the case.
She said helium aboriginal called his friend, lawyer and erstwhile congressman Trey Gowdy, for ineligible representation. She said her hubby sat for different interrogation with agents successful Washington and was repeatedly assured that helium was not a people of the investigation.
She said they heard lone "radio silence" from prosecutors until the Biden medication replaced the Trump medication successful the U.S. attorney's office, and prosecutors notified them that they were poised to question charges.
She said the U.S. lawyer progressive is "in the moving for a large promotion, and don't hide the mid-term elections close astir the country for power of the House."
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.