A former state circuit judge in Arkansas was sentenced today to 120 months for accepting a bribe in exchange for reducing a negligence verdict against a company in Conway, Arkansas, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick C. Harris of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Michael A. Maggio, 54, of Conway, was sentenced 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.
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, Arkansas, Circuit Court, in which a jury awarded a plaintiff $5.2 million in damages against 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 donated approximately $24,000 to Maggio’s campaign, and the following day Maggio reduced the verdict to $1 million. 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. 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.