Court denies former judge's request to withdraw guilty plea in SNF bribery case

A federal judge denied a former Arkansas circuit court judge's request to withdraw his guilty plea related to a bribe in exchange for reducing a judgment against a nursing home.

Judge Brian Miller denied Michael Maggio's request to rescind his guilty plea in a written order released Thursday, and set Maggio's sentencing date for March 24. Maggio asked last month that his plea be withdrawn because his previous attorneys were wrong in advising him to plead guilty.

Maggio admitted that he received a $50,000 campaign contribution from nursing home owner  Michael Morton in exchange for reducing a judgment against Morton's Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, according to court records. Maggio changed the judgment from $5.2 million to $1 million in 2013. The judgment was in a case where a family of a resident sued Greenbrier for negligence and abuse in 2008.

Prosecutors refused Maggio's motion to withdraw his guilty plea because it had “no basis in fact or law,” ArkansasMatters.com reported. Authorities also said Maggio only attempted to withdraw his plea because he violated his plea deal by failing a lie detector test.