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story.lead_photo.caption Gilbert Baker is shown in this file photo.

Former state Sen. Gilbert Baker has been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud in an investigation that already has sent a former judge to prison.

Baker, 62, of Conway is a former chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party and a former top executive at the University of Central Arkansas.

The indictment, handed down in Little Rock on Thursday and released Friday, accuses Baker of one count each of conspiracy and bribery and seven counts of “honest services wire fraud.”

Baker could face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, up to 10 years in prison on the conspiracy count and up to 20 years in prison on each of the seven wire-fraud counts. This is in addition to any fines he might face.

Baker will be arraigned Jan. 24 at 10 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia S. Harris in Little Rock.

Former Circuit Judge Michael Maggio is serving a 10-year prison sentence for bribery in the same case. He has recently been in custody at an undisclosed site, suggesting he may have started talking with federal prosecutors in the hopes of getting a reduced prison sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Givens declined comment on Maggio’s status Friday.

No indictment against a third man who has been under investigation, nursing home owner Michael Morton, has been released. The Baker indictment refers to Morton as Individual A.

The federal investigation of Baker resulted from campaign contributions that Morton made to several political action committees that in turn donated money to Maggio’s final judicial campaign. Baker was a fundraiser for that campaign.

Shortly after Morton sent the money to Baker for the PACs, Maggio reduced a Faulkner County jury’s $5.2 million judgment in a negligence lawsuit against Morton’s Greenbrier nursing home to $1 million. That lawsuit was filed by the family of nursing-home patient Martha Bull. She died in 2008 at the Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

In January 2015, Maggio pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge but later tried unsuccessfully to withdraw the plea.

Both Morton and Baker have denied wrongdoing.

Baker’s attorneys, Bud Cummins and Richard Watts, issued a statement Friday on their client’s behalf saying he never asked Maggio, Morton "or anybody else to do anything improper or illegal.”

A spokesman for Morton said that while Morton made campaign contributions, he "never asked for anything in return from any candidate.

Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Gilbert Baker indictment

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  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    January 11, 2019 at 12:04 p.m.

    Dude looks like Uri Gellar ready to bend a spoon with his mind.
    These Arkansas crimals are on a whole 'nother level of mastermind!
    Or, or, or... Hear me out.
    This is what Pinky from Pinky and the Brain would look like if human.

  • MaxCady
    January 11, 2019 at 12:06 p.m.

    Has anybody seen that video of him when he got arrested? He was tweaking his brains out!

  • JTW061381
    January 11, 2019 at 12:18 p.m.

    Surprise! Not.

  • Jfish
    January 11, 2019 at 12:22 p.m.

    I was hoping the investigation would continue, Maggio was not acting alone and he does not deserve to be released early.

  • tweedyboy57
    January 11, 2019 at 12:23 p.m.

    WHEN will voters wake up to the FACT that these GOP "politicians" only seek to hold office for their personal enrichment USUALLY at the EXPENSE of THE INSTITUTIONS Theyre supposed to Manage? WHITE FAKE CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE IN ARKANSAS is THRIVING.

  • Defiant
    January 11, 2019 at 12:44 p.m.

    UCA certainly hires some stellar people.

  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    January 11, 2019 at 12:49 p.m.

    tweedyboy fails to mention Jim Guy Tucker and the Clintons,

  • MaxCady
    January 11, 2019 at 12:49 p.m.

    @Tweedyboy, and the Democrats don't?? Politicians as a whole are as crooked as a barrel of snakes.

  • MaxCady
    January 11, 2019 at 12:50 p.m.

    What about his partner Linda Leigh Flanagan? She got him hooked on the meth.

  • AnonymousinAR
    January 11, 2019 at 12:51 p.m.

    The legislative session starts next week... can't wait for the FBI to perp walk some current legislators down the capitol steps... hope the shutdown doesn't furlough the FBI agents involved in the investigation.

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