A former circuit judge who pleaded guilty to bribery late last year will go before a federal judge this fall for sentencing, according to court documents filed late Wednesday.
Mike Maggio was scheduled to be sentenced July 24 in federal court in Little Rock. However, the sentencing has been postponed until 10:30 a.m., Nov. 20 before Chief District Judge Brian S. Miller.
Maggio pleaded guilty Dec. 9 in federal court after being accused of accepting a campaign contribution in connection with lowering a jury verdict in a civil case.
According to federal prosecutors, the allegations happened between May and July 2013.
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,” prosecutors said in a news release in January. “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.
Maggio then announced that he was running for an Arkansas Court of Appeals seat on June 27, 2013 as post-trial motions were ongoing, prosecutors said.
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.
Maggio told authorities that “his decision to remit the judgment was improperly influenced by the donations that his campaign received from the business owner,” officials said.
Also, Maggio reportedly told authorities that he attempted to delete text messages between himself and the fundraiser after media reports of contributions from the business owner were uncovered.
Neither the fundraiser nor the business owner have been charged with any crime in connection with the case.
The sentencing for Maggio is scheduled to be held several days before another federal corruption case will be dispensed with.
Former State Sen. Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro, is set to be sentenced at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 23 in front of Miller at the federal courthouse in Little Rock.
Bookout, who had served as Senate President Pro Tempore, pleaded guilty March 11 to one count of mail fraud in federal court.
The investigation into Bookout started as a state ethics complaint and probe, but quickly expanded.
Prosecutors said earlier this year that Bookout put $126,500 in campaign donations into one account from May 2009 until Dec. 2012, while putting another $62,750 into a second account from March 2012 until July 2013. Of that money, $150,048.12 was used to purchase several items including clothing, a sound system at Bookout’s home, golf clubs, sporting goods, alcohol, tanning sessions and manicures, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also alleged there were issues with the campaign finance reports filed by Bookout with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office.
"During his 2010 and 2012 re-election campaigns, Bookout was required to file monthly Campaign Contribution and Expenditure Reports (“CCE reports”) with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office in Little Rock to evidence compliance with campaign finance disclosure laws and provide a public record of all contributions and expenditures related to his campaigns. According to the information, the monthly CCE reports prepared, signed, and filed by Bookout in 2010 and 2012 falsely claimed that the unlawful payments made from his campaign accounts were legitimate campaign related expenses,” prosecutors said in a news release.
“Additionally, the information alleges that in filing false CCE reports, Bookout represented to the Secretary of State’s Office, the public, and his contributors that all of the claimed expenditures were lawful and related to his campaigns, when in fact they were not. The mail fraud count charged relates to Bookout’s mailing of a fraudulent CCE report to the Secretary of State’s Office on about December 28, 2012.”