Ex-Judge Sentenced For Accepting Bribe: Leaking Charlize Theron’s Adoption Details Had Earned Him Permanent Dismissal From Bench

A former Arkansas judge was sentenced to 10 years for accepting a bribe. The “crooked” judge had earlier leaked details about Charlize Theron’s adoption, which had earned him his permanent dismissal from the justice system.

A federal judge sentenced a former Arkansas judge to 10 years in prison in a federal court in Little Rock. The ex-judge, identified as Michael Maggio, had pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in exchange for reducing a hefty negligence jury verdict. Maggio, 54, had ensured a Conway, Arkansas, business would have to pay just $1 million instead of the $5.2 million that was awarded by the jury. While delivering the verdict, the federal judge had deemed Maggio to be “worse than a drug dealer.”

The judge had pleaded guilty last year to a federal bribery charge. He had confessed to accepting $50,000 in campaign donations mere two days before drastically reducing a jury’s $5.2 million award to $1 million in a negligence lawsuit. Incidentally, the judge had accepted the bribes back in 2013. However, by the time the case had come to trial, he had been permanently removed from the bench.

Michael Maggio had been sacked in 2014 for multiple actions that were completely unbecoming for a judge. Apart from making inappropriate comments in an online forum, the judge had disclosed confidential details about an adoption of a child involving Academy Award-winning Hollywood actress Charlize Theron. Incidentally, it wasn’t even Maggio who had handled the adoption, but still that didn’t stop him from making revealing comments.

Earlier in 2013, Maggio met with an unidentified person who said he could provide about $50,000 in campaign funds in return for a favorable ruling in the civil case, reported Reuters. In the case filed against him, the ex-judge had entered a plea deal, in which he admitted that he “corruptly accepted and agreed to accept from another something of value, that is campaign contributions,” in connection with a business matter in his court, reported Yahoo!.

The plaintiff in that matter, the estate of a decedent, filed a complaint alleging, among other things, that a Conway business, its owner, and others, had neglected and mistreated the decedent leading to the decedent’s death while he was in their care, reported Arkansas Matters. In the lawsuit that went on to trial, the jury awarded damages against the business in the amount of $5.2 million.

The business then appealed for a new trial or remittitur, seeking, among other things, to reduce the amount of damages awarded by the jury to the plaintiff. It later became clear that the judge had used his position to reduce the plaintiff’s verdict to $1 million in lieu of receiving campaign donations. In his plea deal, the judge admitted that his decision to reduce the damages was “improperly influenced by the donations that his campaign received from the business owner.”

While sentencing Maggio, U.S. District Judge Brian Miller said the 54-year-old former judge’s actions were “crooked,” reported ABC News. The judge even deemed the defendant to be worse than a “dope dealer.”

“What is worse, a dope dealer talking on the phone about a dope deal or a dirty judge? There’s no question in society, a dirty judge is far more harmful to society than any dope dealer.”

Interestingly, while prosecutors had attempted to get the maximum 10-year jail sentence, Maggio’s attorneys had sought probation. They claimed the former Faulkner County Circuit Court judge has suffered “personal, professional, and political destruction” over the past two years. They also insisted the judge had numerous health issues.

However, Judge Miller said the thought of probation never crossed his mind, reported WREG News, Memphis. Moreover, he even scoffed at the sentencing guidelines which recommended a jail sentence of 51- to 63-months based on previous criminal history and the severity of the crime.

The federal judge has already ordered Maggio to report to prison on May 23, but he hasn’t specified which one. Moreover, the verdict is most likely to be appealed, hinted Maggio’s lawyer.

[Photo by Christine Balderas/Getty Images]