Former Circuit Judge Mike Maggio pleaded guilty to bribery, admitting that a campaign contribution he received influenced his decision to reduce a jury verdict.
Maggio, a Conway judge, was running for the Arkansas Court of Appeals at the time he received the contribution in question.
On Friday, a plea was entered in U.S. District Court in Little Rock but a sentencing date remains to be scheduled.
Maggio could face up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and be fined $250,000.
From the U.S. Attorney’s office:
At his plea hearing in open court on December 9, 2014, and in his plea documents, Maggio admitted that in 2013 he served as an elected circuit judge for the State of Arkansas, Twentieth Judicial District, Second Division, presiding over a civil matter filed in Faulkner County Circuit Court. The plaintiff in that matter, the estate of a decedent, filed a complaint alleging, among other things, that a Conway business, its owner, and others had neglected and mistreated the decedent leading to the decedent’s death while he was in their care. In early May 2013, the lawsuit proceeded to trial, with the business as the only defendant. On May 16, 2013, a jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor, awarding damages against the business in the amount of $5.2 million. Approximately one month later, on June 17, 2013, the business filed a motion for new trial or remittiture, seeking, among other things, to reduce the amount of damages awarded by the jury to the plaintiff.
According to court documents, Maggio formally announced his candidacy for the Arkansas Court of Appeals on June 27, 2013, while the defendant’s post-trial motions were pending. On June 29, 2013, Maggio’s campaign fundraiser told him that the first $50,000 from the business was “on the way.” Maggio knew at the time that his money included donations from the business owner. On or about July 8, 2013, Maggio’s campaign fundraiser received approximately $24,000 in donations from the business owner. Two days later—and after the campaign fundraiser and Maggio had communicated extensively regarding the litigation and the campaign—Maggio reduced the plantiff’s verdict to $1 million.
As part of his plea, Maggio admitted that his decision to remit the judgment was improperly influenced by the donations that his campaign received from the business owner. Maggio further acknowledged that he attempted to delete text messages between the campaign fundraiser and himself after the contributions from the business owner were disclosed by the media.