Judge admits he took a bribe to reduce $5 million nursing home award

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A former Arkansas circuit court judge has pleaded guilty to charges that he took a bribe in exchange for reducing a $5.2 million judgment against a nursing home, authorities announced Friday.

The bribe from nursing home owner Michael Morton came as a campaign contribution while Maggio was running for the Arkansas Court of Appeals in 2013, according to local news sources. Morton was not identified by name in court documents, but details made his identity clear, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Maggio admits that after receiving the $24,000 contribution, he reduced the nursing home damages to $1 million, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas stated Friday. The 53-year-old former judge now faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

A jury had awarded the damages in May 2013. It found a nursing facility in the town of Conway guilty of negligent care that led to a resident's death.

Maggio has been linked to a number of other alleged improprieties, including violating the confidentiality of actress Charlize Theron in an online post about her adoption of a child. The Arkansas Supreme Court removed him from office in September 2014, according to the Democrat-Gazette.