Let the speculation begin.
Following a closed hearing set earlier today, Judge Price Marshall issued this order delaying the bribery retrial of Gilbert Baker, which had been scheduled for May 17, until November.
The parties had been moving toward retrial on eight charges of bribery or wire fraud on which a jury failed to reach a verdict at the first trial. He was acquitted on a conspiracy charge.
Is this a signal of a willingness by Baker, a former Republican senator, and state party chair, to cooperate with prosecutors and enter an agreement to conclude the case? That is only the rankest speculation at this point.
Baker is accused of giving campaign contributions to then-Jugilbert badge Mike Maggio, then a candidate for Court of Appeals. Maggio pleaded guilty and served a prison sentence for taking the money as consideration for lowering a $5.2 million verdict in a negligence case against a nursing home owned by Michael Morton. Morton was the source of contributions for Maggio, funneled through some PACs of dubious provenance, and other judicial races including that of Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood, who testified at Baker’s trial about her own campaign contributions from Morton (sent to Baker for her at an illegally early time) and about her communications with Maggio and Baker during that time. Other testimony in the case included illegal straw contributions and other ill-appearing actions by lobbyists, including a former legislator.
Morton wasn’t charged and he testified in Baker’s first trial. He said he made what he believed to be legitimate contributions to good judicial candidates. If there IS a possibility of a resolution of the case, Baker’s insider knowledge of the lobbying industry and the legislature and a variety of campaign contributions offer many intriguing possibilities.
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