Alexis Rogers with content partner, KATV Ch. 7 reports:
Former Circuit Court Judge Michael Maggio of Conway was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in federal prison for taking a bribe. He previously pleaded guilty to the charge in hopes of reducing his sentence after admitting he lowered a jury award in a lawsuit in exchange for campaign donations from a nursing home operator.
Ten years was the maximum sentence for Maggio, who will have no parole and two years of supervised release. Federal judge Brian Miller said Maggio, who has 14 days to file an appeal, can no longer own firearms and has to pay a $100 special assessment.
Miller had strong comments for Maggio before announcing the sentence.
“What’s worse, a dope dealer on the corner or a dirty judge? A dirty judge is far more harmful to society than a dope dealer,” Miller said.
Maggio’s attorney, James Hensley, responded to the judge’s comparison.
“I can see why somebody would say that, he is the judge. I guess he can say what he needs to. I don’t feel that way about Mike. I think he is a lot more than what happened here,” Hensley said.
Maggio did not address the press Thursday. Hensley said that is expected.
“When you get into a case like this, the lawyers always say, ‘keep your mouth shut. Just go to your car, do what you’ve got to do.’ No matter what he says or how he says it, it is not going to spin around to make him look any kind of good,” Hensley said. “Obviously, it is a great disappointment. We did everything we can to try to assist Mr. Maggio in this.”
Attorney Tom Buchanan is representing Martha Bull in a civil suit connected to Maggio’s case. He said Maggio’s crime was serious and he felt that Judge Miller treated it as such.
“I think that the judge made it very clear what he [Maggio] was doing. He was eroding the very foundation that our system of justice is built on,” Buchanan said. “He is going to have 10 years to think about it.”
Maggio accepted a $50,000 campaign donation two days before reducing a jury’s $5.2 million award to $1 million.
Hensley said he expects to appeal.
“I would anticipate an appeal. It is normal in these kind of cases. It would be surprising not to. That is what we will be talking about. And setting things up for him and his family because he is probably going to be gone for a while,” Hensley said.
Buchanan said the families impacted say more justice is on the horizon.
“Certainly, there is justice to be found here in front of a fair and impartial judge, but whether full and complete justice will likely come at a later date,” Buchanan said.
Maggio requested to be placed in a facility in Texarkana. He has to report to prison by May 23.