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Michael A. Maggio, 54, of Conway, was sentenced in Little Rock by Chief U.S. District Judge Brian S. Miller of the Eastern District of Arkansas. Maggio pleaded guilty on Jan. 9, 2015, to a one-count information charging him with bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.
Sentencing guidelines indicated a sentence of five years and three months, but Miller said that was not enough. “A judge is the system,” Judge Miller said. He gave Maggio the maximum sentence of 10 years.
There is no parole for federal sentences. Maggio has to report to prison, likely in Texarkana, by May 23
The Arkansas Supreme Court in March 2014 suspended Maggio from office for issues not related to this case. He was removed from office in September but for one year from March continued to collect his salary of $140,371 a year. Maggio surrendered his law license in December, 2015.
As part of his plea agreement, Maggio admitted that in 2013, he served as an elected circuit judge for the state of Arkansas, 20th Judicial District, Second Division, and presided over a civil matter in Faulkner County, Ark., Circuit Court, in which a jury awarded a plaintiff $5.2 million in damages against Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home company. Maggio admitted that, while the company’s post-trial motions for new trial or to reduce the amount of damages awarded were pending, he formally announced his candidacy for the Arkansas Court of Appeals.
Two weeks later, the owner of the nursing home company, Michael Morton of Fort Smith, donated $24,000 to Maggio’s campaign, and the following day Maggio reduced the verdict to $1 million. Another $26,000 was donated at the same time. Before making his decision, Maggio admitted that a fundraiser for his campaign discussed the pending post-trial motions with him and told him that the company’s owner had committed money to support his campaign. Morton has not been charged.
Maggio so far has not been ordered to pay restitution to the family of the victim of the nursing home negligence
As part of his plea, Maggio admitted that his decision to remit the judgment was caused by the donations and that he attempted to delete text messages between the fundraiser and himself after the media became aware of the bribes.
The FBI’s Little Rock Field Office investigated the case.
Trial Attorneys Edward P. Sullivan and Charles Walsh of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Peters of the Eastern District of Arkansas prosecuted the case.
Maggio has been represented by Conway attorney James Hensley, who at this point plans to appeal the sentence. Maggio declined to comment in court or afterwards.
— Hill ’n Holler staff report