Readers of my blog know that I have intently followed the case originating in Faulkner County Circuit Court involving the sordid tale of defrocked Judge Mike Maggio, Michael Morton, and Gilbert Baker. The story, admitted to by Maggio in his plea agreement, is that he illegally reduced a $5.2 million nursing home verdict obtained by Tom Buchanan on behalf of the Estate of Martha Bull to $1 million in return for exorbitant cash contributions to his then burgeoning campaign for the Court of Appeals. Once this corrupt scheme came to light, Maggio's campaign was kaput, he lost his law license, and he is looking at deserved jail time.
Though unnamed, there were several co-conspirators mentioned in Maggio's plea agreement. These were largely believed to be Michael Morton, the Fort Smith based nursing home mogul, and Gilbert Baker, the former politico and lobbyist with a shady history where money and politics intersect. It has been nearly 10 months since Maggio's guilty plea, and since then, those in the legal community have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Since the investigation is being led by the FBI, it has long been believed that Maggio was cooperating with authorities and providing information and perhaps testimony against other parties involved in this truly shameful debacle.
Additional fuel was thrown onto that fire this week when Maggio's sentencing, which had already been pushed back until November 20, 2015, was again pushed back until February 26, 2016. Is this perhaps evidence that the investigation may be spreading out to other lawmakers or additional co-conspirators? What about other judges? What about confidants of both Morton and/or Baker? Best to wait and see, but it may very well be that the scope of the investigation has spread and will continue its slow sprawl, perhaps very high in state government. I would venture to say many pols here in Arkansas are sweating and keeping a very, very low profile right now.