Jury clears ex-Arkansas senator of bribery conspiracy charge

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal jury on Thursday acquitted a former Arkansas lawmaker of conspiring to bribe an ex-judge who admitted to lowering a jury’s award in a negligence lawsuit in exchange for campaign contributions.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that jurors deadlocked on another bribery charge and seven wire fraud charges in the case against former state Sen. Gilbert Baker. Jurors had been deliberating since Friday in the case.

Baker was accused of conspiring with former state Judge Michael Maggio, who admitted to accepting campaign donations from a nursing home operator, then reducing a judgment against that company by $4.2 million.

Michael Maggio, the nursing home operator, has not been charged with any crimes and has denied any wrongdoing. Maggio was sentenced in 2015 to 10 years in prison.

Baker is a former chairman of the state Republican party who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010.

Baker was among several recent federal corruption cases that have involved Arkansas lawmakers and lobbyists.

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