Attorneys for Gilbert Baker likely won’t be retried in October in the bribery case against the former Republican Party chair and state senator.
When he does go back to court, it appears a key witness in his first trial, former Circuit Judge Michael Maggio may be a free man by then.
After a jury acquitted Baker on one charge and deadlocked on eight others, the U.S. attorney’s office said it would retry the remaining charges and a trial was set for Oct. 4.
His attorneys, Blake Hendrix and Annie Depper asked Judge Price Marshall earlier this week for a continuance. They said they wouldn’t have adequate time to prepare because they are scheduled for several trials in September and October. The motion said the government doesn’t object to a continuance.
Baker is accused of using campaign contributions from a nursing home owner to bribe then-Judge Maggio to reduce a $5.2 million nursing home negligence jury award against the nursing home owner, Michael Morton (who has not been charged.) Maggio pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years, which he began serving in July 2017.
But now the question: Where is Mike Maggio?
I reported earlier this week that a federal judge had issued a sealed order in Maggio’s closed criminal case, believed to be a response to a motion from the government to reduce Maggio’s 10-year sentence as promised for his cooperation in the prosecution of Baker. The U.S. attorney’s office and his attorney have not responded to my requests for more information.
The federal Bureau of Prisons record says only that Maggio is no longer in that agency’s custody. It has not responded to my request for further information.
But …. the bureau’s record for Maggio now says he is scheduled for release Oct. 20. When he was in custody earlier, his release date was listed in 2026.
If Judge Brian Miller granted a request to halve Maggio’s sentence, which he began serving in July 2017, he’d be close enough to release date to be transferred to a halfway house, private facilities in which federal prisoners transition back to the free world..
Arkansas inmates moved to halfway houses often end up at the City of Faith’s facility in Little Rock. They referred my query to the Bureau of Prisons, which says it will not provide information on whereabouts of people not in federal custody.