Ousted Faulkner County Circuit Judge Michael Maggio has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to reducing a jury’s judgment in exchange for campaign contributions.
Maggio, 54, appeared Thursday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Brian Miller in Little Rock for sentencing. Maggio was also sentenced to two years of supervised release.
Sentencing guidelines recommended 51 to 63 months in prison, though Miller said Maggio's "corrupt" actions in the judicial system warranted a harsher punishment, adding that such frameworks were "not enough."
"It's crooked, and Mr. Maggio is crooked," Miller said.
At one point during Thursday's sentencing hearing, Miller also referred to Maggio as a "dirty judge," adding that his actions were worse than being a "dope dealer."
U.S. Attorney Julie Peters argued Thursday that Maggio's breach of the public's trust "insulted" the judiciary and did not warrant sympathy in regard to sentencing.
Maggio's attorney, James Hensley Jr., stressed that his client will already "have to start over" and that Maggio "has taken responsibility as much as he can."
"How much more can we punish him?" Hensley asked.
Ahead of Thursday’s sentencing, U.S. attorneys had sought a 10-year sentence for Maggio in the case.
“The nature and circumstances of this offense are repulsive,” federal prosecutors wrote in a document filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday. “In essence, Maggio sold a verdict as a means to obtain a higher judicial office.”
Meanwhile, Maggio’s attorneys asked the federal court to grant leniency, stating that their client has already suffered humiliation and that a “chronic and dire medical condition warrants a below-guideline sentence.”
Last year, the former Faulkner County judge admitted to lowering a jury’s judgment from $5.2 million to $1 million in a negligence lawsuit involving a nursing home in Greenbrier.
The reduction came as a result of contributions made indirectly to his 2014 campaign for the Arkansas Court of Appeals.
In February, Maggio asked to withdraw his guilty plea entered Jan. 9, 2015 — a request that was denied by Miller.
Maggio’s plea agreement implicated at least two other people who were not identified by name: the owner of a nursing home sued for negligence and a fundraiser for Maggio, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported.
The Arkansas Supreme Court ordered in September 2014 that Maggio be removed from office as a result of issues unrelated to the case. Those issues included confidential information revealed online regarding an adoption case involving actress Charlize Theron.
Maggio declined to comment in court Thursday. Members of his family, including his wife and children, were present in the courtroom.
Maggio's is set to report May 23 for his sentence. Miller agreed to recommend, at the former circuit judge's request, that Maggio be incarcerated in Texarkana.
Read Friday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.
Information for this report was contributed by Debra Hale-Shelton of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.