The Maggio bribery case: Looking ahead | Arkansas Blog

The Maggio bribery case: Looking ahead

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Developments in the federal bribery case against former Judge Mike Maggio continue to leave people scratching their heads.

He's pleaded guilty to taking a bribe, but nobody has been charged with paying it? How can that be?

MICHAEL MORTON - ARKANSAS BUSINESS
  • Arkansas Business
  • MICHAEL MORTON
GILBERT BAKER
  • GILBERT BAKER
It's clear what the feds believe: Individuals they don't name, but known to be nursing home owner Michael Morton and political operator Gilbert Baker, sent campaign contributions to Maggio. In return, he reduced a $5.2 million jury verdict in a nursing home negligence case to $1 million. Morton owns the nursing home.

The government thinks Maggio hasn't been a sufficient snitch after entering a negotiated plea, plus it learned he's lied at various points to prosecutors and the state Ethics Commission. The feds now want a maximum 10-year sentence. They also want him held responsible for $4.2 million in restitution to the family on the wrong end of Maggio's verdict reduction. He'll be sentenced Thursday.

What now?

A criminal defense lawyer provides this assessment:

One of Maggio's problems with the government is that they are pissed because he turned on them after signing up to be a snitch. He makes it harder to get the others but not necessarily impossible.

Remember that the government plays the long game in its cases; working them forever for all they can get. They take all the time they need. 5 year statute of limitations; no arrest triggering speedy trial issues. State officials, on the other hand, are prone to, as I put it, premature ejaculation: They have to make their case quick even if halfassed to prove to the locals that they are doing their jobs, even if the investigation isn't complete. The feds, on the other hand, have to prove nothing, and they charge when they know you can't get out of it. Hence, a 98+% conviction rate in federal court.
Also: It's not over until it's over for Maggio. The defense lawyer notes that federal rules provide for post-sentencing relief for belated cooperation.

Stipulation: Morton has said his political contributions through multiple PACs created for the purpose were not meant to influence Maggio's court decisions. Baker, likewise, denies any wrongdoing in serving as a contribution bagman for Maggio (and a number of other political candidates that year.)

By the way, note the language used by the government yesterday in opposing Maggio's request for leniency (emphasis supplied):

The United States, in good faith, provided numerous opportunities to allow Maggio to comply with his obligations under the Plea Agreement and Addendum. As outlined below, Maggio breached the plea agreement when he failed to truthfully disclose all information and knowledge regarding his, Individual A’s, and Individual B’s criminal conduct; failed to be available for interview upon reasonable request; and ceased cooperating with the United States. Maggio cannot now justly claim the benefits of the plea agreement while flaunting its terms.
PS: A reader invokes the late Doug Smith in observing that the U.S. attorney has misused the word "flaunting." I believe he's correct in saying the proper word here would be "flouting."


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