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Timeline in Maggio case

by Debra Hale-Shelton | March 25, 2016 at 2:18 a.m.

Events that led to the sentencing Thursday of former Circuit Judge Michael Maggio:



28 — Martha Bull of Perryville enters Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for a 30-day rehabilitation after a stroke and abdominal illness.


8 — Bull becomes ill in the morning and dies in her nursing-home bed that night.



8 — Two of Bull’s daughters refile a lawsuit against the Greenbrier nursing home, Central Arkansas Nursing Centers, Nursing Consultants Inc., Greenbrier Nursing Property Inc., nursing-home owner Michael Morton and John Does 1-5 in Faulkner County Circuit Court. The case goes to Maggio’s division.



Between this month and about mid-2014, Maggio “corruptly” accepted and agreed to accept campaign contributions in exchange, “at least in part,” for reducing the $5.2 million judgment, his plea agreement says.


19 — Maggio grants motions to dismiss all defendants except for the nursing home and the John Does. 23 — The attorney for Bull’s daughters, Thomas Buchanan, voluntarily requests dismissal of the John Does.


Morton is contacted at an unspecified time during this month about donating money to political action committees, aimed at helping Maggio’s campaign, Morton later told the Arkansas Ethics Commission staff. Morton said he ran into lobbyist and fundraiser Gilbert Baker and lobbyist Linda Leigh Flanagin at a Little Rock restaurant, was asked to support Maggio and said yes.

8 — Bull lawsuit goes to trial.

16 — Individual B, identified only as a lobbyist and political fundraiser, texts Maggio about 10:33 a.m. to say, “I have a LR lunch today with the nursing home folks. The topic will be judicial races. You are at the top of the list,” according to Maggio’s plea agreement.

16 — Jury returns verdict awarding Bull’s family $5.2 million about 5:50 p.m.

16 — Records from Maggio’s cellphone and the phones of two other people show four texts or calls took place after the verdict, starting at 6:22 p.m. with a text from Maggio to Individual B and next a call at 6:33 p.m. from Individual A to Individual B, the lobbyist-fundraiser. Individual B then texted Maggio, who texted him back. The plea agreement says Individual A is a nursing-home owner.

16 — Juror Jamie DuVall of Conway emails Maggio at 8:20 p.m. to say she thinks the jury made the wrong decision.

17 — Juror resends email to Maggio at 7:41 a.m.

17 — By 10:43 a.m., Maggio has contacted lawyers by fax to set up a meeting about the juror’s email and tells them not to contact jurors.

17 — Around this date, Maggio reaches a contract agreement with political consultant Clint Reed for Maggio’s Arkansas Court of Appeals campaign.

20 — Maggio confers with attorneys about the juror’s email.


17 — Morton’s Greenbrier nursing home files motion at 10:05 a.m. asking Maggio for a new trial or a reduced judgment in the Bull lawsuit.

17 — At 10:29 a.m., Individual A, the nursing-home owner, makes a five-second call to Individual B, the fundraiser.

17 — Ten more phone calls or texts are exchanged starting at 5:51 p.m. among Maggio and the two other individuals. Individual A is listed as communicating only by phone call, not text, according to Maggio’s plea agreement.

27 — Maggio formally announces his campaign for the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

29 — Individual B, the fundraiser, sends Maggio a text message at 8:15 a.m. stating in part, “Well your first 50K is on the way.”


8 — Three cellphone calls and one text message are exchanged between Maggio and Individual B between 9:32 a.m. and 9:49 a.m. 8 — Early in the afternoon, Maggio presides over a hearing on the Greenbrier nursing home’s motion for a new trial or a reduction in the lawsuit’s judgment.

8 — Morton writes or has someone write checks on his behalf to eight PACs after, he said, Baker faxed him the PACs’ names with specified amounts, Morton later told the Ethics Commission staff.

8 — Morton also signs a $100,000 check to the University of Central Arkansas Foundation. Baker was a top UCA administrator at the time. 9 — Morton’s PAC checks arrive at Baker’s Conway home via FedEx at 10:31 a.m., according to a FedEx receipt and to Morton’s testimony before the commission staff.

9 — Individual B, the fundraiser, calls Maggio three times starting at 3:30 p.m.

10 — Maggio cuts jury’s $5.2 million judgment to $1 million.

19 — Someone takes Morton’s checks to PAC attorney Chris Stewart’s office.

23 — Stewart sets up post office boxes for the eight PACs.



3 — The head of the Arkansas Judicial and Disability Commission says it is investigating allegations regarding online postings Maggio made, presumably anonymously, about a legally confidential adoption case and other matters.

5 — Maggio apologizes for the online comments and says he will withdraw from the appeals court race.

11 — The Blue Hog Report blog carries an article about the PAC contributions Morton made and the subsequent donations Maggio received from all but one of the eight PACs. Other news media soon follow upon the report.

12 — Bull’s family asks the the judicial commission to investigate the PAC contributions.

24 — The Arkansas Supreme Court orders Maggio stripped of cases until further notice.

24 — The UCA Foundation returns Morton’s $100,000 donation.


2 — Baker resigns from his administrative job at UCA and takes an $82,000 pay cut to teach music.


27 — The Ethics Commission fines Maggio $750 for accepting campaign contributions above state limits.


6 — The judicial commission and Maggio announce they have agreed to sanctions that, if approved by the Supreme Court, would suspend him from all judicial duties until year’s end, then prohibit him from serving again as a judge in Arkansas. The panel reviewed various allegations, including the online comments Maggio made, but did not address the PAC donations in its findings.


11 — The Supreme Court orders Maggio removed from judicial office.


2 — The FBI confirms it is investigating PAC contributions to Maggio’s campaign.


18 — Bull’s family files a new lawsuit in circuit court, accusing Maggio, Baker and Morton of conspiring to funnel donations to Maggio’s campaign. Maggio is later dismissed as a defendant.



9 — Maggio pleads guilty to felony bribery before Judge Brian Miller in U.S. District Court.



19 — Maggio fails a polygraph test taken at the request of federal investigators.

19 — Maggio divulges previously withheld details to investigators about his communications with Individual B, the fundraiser, prosecutors later disclose.


5 — Maggio retains a new attorney, James Hensley Jr. Prosecutors later say they invited Hensley to look at Maggio’s post-polygraph interview and to discuss the case but that Hensley declined to review the evidence.

10 — Prosecutors advise the federal probation office that Maggio has failed to comply with his plea agreement and addendum.

11 — The probation office submits a revised pre-sentencing report.

12 — Hensley asks to withdraw Maggio’s guilty plea, in part, Hensley says, because Maggio’s previous attorneys provided ineffective counsel.

16 — Miller grants Maggio’s previous attorneys “limited waiver” of attorney-client privilege.

21 — Hensley says he is withdrawing his argument of ineffective counsel but cites other reasons for plea withdrawal.

23 — Maggio’s sentencing, already postponed twice, is delayed again. 26 — Miller hears arguments on whether to let Maggio withdraw his plea.


10 — Miller rules that Maggio’s plea will stand.

22 — For the first time, prosecutors say the Maggio fundraiser had “orchestrated straw donations” in addition to “urgently” seeking PAC funds for Maggio’s appeals court campaign.

24 — Miller sentences Maggio to 10 years in a federal prison and to two years of supervised release.

Print Headline: Timeline in Maggio case


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