Ex-judge asks to rescind guilty plea in nursing home bribery case

A former judge is asking to withdraw his guilty plea on charges he took a bribe in exchange for reducing a $5.2 million judgment against a nursing home.

In a request filed on Friday, a new attorney for disgraced Arkansas circuit court judge Michael Maggio, 54, said previous attorneys were wrong in advising Maggio to plead guilty to the bribery charge last year, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Maggio is scheduled to be sentenced on February 26.

Maggio plead guilty to the bribery charges in January 2015, admitting that he received a $24,000 campaign contribution from nursing home owner Michael Morton in exchange for reducing the judgment against Morton's facility to $1 million.

The original $5.2 judgment against Morton's Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was from a negligence lawsuit against the facility. It was filed by the family of a resident who died in 2008.

The resident's family is currently pursuing a lawsuit against Morton and lobbyist Gilbert Baker, claiming the two conspired to funnel donations to Maggio in exchange for the reduced number. Baker helped raise money for Maggio's 2014 Arkansas Court of Appeals campaign.

Maggio surrendered his law license in April 2015 after posting details online about actress Charlize Theron's private adoption.