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Former Judge Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribe

(CN) - A former state circuit judge in Arkansas pleaded guilty Friday to accepting a bribe in exchange for reducing a jury's negligence verdict against a nursing home.

In a plea entered in the Federal Court in Little Rock, Ark., Michael A. Maggio, the former Faulkner County Circuit Judge, admits to being "improperly influenced" in 2013 prior to reducing a $5.2 million verdict against the unidentified facility.

At the time, Maggio was presiding over a case filed by a family who alleged the nursing home's negligent care and mistreatment of their mother brought about her death. On May 16, 2013, a jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff's favor, awarding damages against the facility.

Maggio was hearing post-trial motion in the case in July 2013, when he announced his candidacy for the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

Federal prosecutors said within days of his announcement, Maggio received about $24,000 from the nursing home's owner. The next day the judge reduced the verdict against the company to $1 million.

During a hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, Maggio also admitted he attempted to delete text messages between the fundraiser and himself after the media became aware of the illicit contributions to his campaign.

A sentencing date has not been announced.

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