White-Collar Crime

Former judge pleads guilty, admits taking bribe to cut jury verdict from $5.2M to $1M

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Michael Maggio

Michael Maggio. Image from Arkansas Judiciary.

A former Arkansas judge waived indictment and pleaded guilty Friday to a federal criminal information (PDF) charging him with accepting a bribe for reducing a nursing home negligence verdict from $5.2 million to $1 million.

Michael A. Maggio, 53, admitted being “improperly influenced” in the nursing home case by campaign contributions in 2013 for his planned run for an appellate court seat, according to Arkansas Business, the Log Cabin Democrat and the Times Record.

At that point, he was still a sitting Faulkner County Circuit Court judge. Maggio withdrew as a candidate for an appeals court seat last year.

A plea agreement (PDF) filed Friday in the Eastern District of Arkansas case provides more details. It says as much as $24,000 in campaign contributions was at issue. However, it is not clear that Maggio’s campaign received all of that money.

The maximum sentence in the bribery case is 10 years. However, the plea agreement points to a guideline sentence of 30 to 37 months, although that is not binding, when Maggio is sentenced at a later date, the Arkansas Business article says.

An investigation is ongoing, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Little Rock told the Times Record.

Maggio was removed from the bench last year after over online comments made under a pseudonym that included discussion of a confidential adoption of a child by actress Charlize Theron.

He is also facing a civil suit, along with other defendants, that alleges campaign contributions influenced his decision-making concerning the jury verdict in the nursing home case.

Hat tip: Courthouse News.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Controversial ‘geauxjudge’ commenter admits he is a judge, drops out of appellate race”

Arkansas Business: “Family Accepts Reduced Damages in Greenbrier Nursing Home Case”

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