Jul 9, 2017
Maggio Is Guilty, Says 8th Circuit
"A fundamental misunderstanding of his crime..."
Former Circuit Judge Mike Maggio lost his case with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals (3-judge panel) this week, but whether that signals the beginning of his 10-year prison sentence for bribery remains to be seen.
Maggio — who was removed from office in September 2014 after unrelated lewd and improper online comments — appealed his plea-bargained guilty plea from January 2015 when he admitted to taking a bribe to lower the judgement against a nursing home in a negligence lawsuit. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in March, 2016.
“We’re going to try to get Maggio in prison as quickly as we can,” the acting U.S. attorney said, seeming to echo what the appeals judge wrote in his opinion: “As the government makes a point of informing us, Maggio has not yet served any time for his misdeeds. That will soon change.”
On the same day the nursing home attorneys were in his court, the nursing home owner, Michael Morton from Ft. Smith, wrote $24,000 in checks to Maggio’s election campaign. Maggio reduced the original $5 million judgement to $1 million, and also anonymously implicated two people who many believe to be Morton and former Republican state Senator Gilbert Baker in the scheme — though neither Morton nor Baker has been charged and both deny any involvement.
In his appeal, one of Maggio’s claims was he “did nothing wrong because the $5 million judgement truly was too much and it was, therefore, legally correct for him to lower it.”
8th Circuit Appeals Judge William Jay Riley wrote:
Maggio’s undeveloped suggestion that he did nothing wrong because ‘the remittitur was legally required’ reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of his crime.
Simply put, Maggio admitted he took money intending it to color his judgment in a case. That was illegal, whether or not a judge who was not corrupt might have ruled the same way.
Wesley Hall, Maggio’s current attorney (Maggio has switched three times) says he’ll ask his client about next steps. If Maggio appeals the 8th Circuit, Hall could also ask that Maggio remain free as that appeal winds its way through either the full 8th Circuit Appeals Court or the Supreme Court.
So, two-and-a-half-years after he pleaded guilty, how much longer will former Circuit Judge Maggio avoid that prison sentence?