An appeals court wiped out a conviction of a former Congressman after defense lawyers argued the FBI “set up” the lawmaker.
“Due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer serve you effectively,” Fortenberry said in a statement.
Kevin McCarthy joined then-Speaker Pelosi and called for Fortenberry to step down last year.
“I think when someone’s convicted, it’s time to resign,” McCarthy told reporters last year, according to Politico.
“Congressman Fortenberry’s conviction represents a breach of the public trust and confidence in his ability to serve. No one is above the law,” Pelosi, a lifelong crook who mysteriously made hundreds of millions of dollars as a member of Congress said last year.
Fortenberry was convicted on three felony counts – one count of falsifying and concealing material facts and two counts of making false statements (each count carries five years) by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.
Fortenberry’s lawyers argued at trial that the FBI lured the Congressman into giving two interviews – then indicted him after he couldn’t remember all the details about a conversation he had with an FBI informant about the illicit campaign donation.
“Defense lawyers said the FBI “set up” Fortenberry after a national investigation fizzled into foreign money funneled to members of Congress. They said Fortenberry’s flaw was voluntarily meeting with agents and prosecutors to help their probe and having a faulty memory.” – AP reported.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts called a special election to fill Fortenberry’s vacant seat.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wiped out Fortenberry’s conviction after his defense lawyers argued the FBI set him up.
The appeals court said the FBI interviews took place in Nebraska at Fortenberry’s home and in DC. Meanwhile, a Los Angeles jury convicted Fortenberry of the alleged crimes that took place in another state.
“Fortenberry’s trial took place in a state where no charged crime was committed, and before a jury drawn from the vicinage of the federal agencies that investigated the defendant,” US District Judge James Donato wrote in the opinion.
“The Constitution does not permit this. Fortenberry’s convictions are reversed so that he may be retried, if at all, in a proper venue,” the opinion read.
“We are gratified by the Ninth Circuit’s decision. Celeste and I would like to thank everyone who has stood by us and supported us with their kindness and friendship,” Fortenberry said in a statement.