Former prosecutor faces bribery, extortion, fraud charges

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A former state attorney in north Florida is facing multiple federal charges related to allegations of bribery, extortion and fraud, officials announced Friday.

Jeffrey Siegmeister, 52, of Live Oak, was arrested in Arizona on Friday and charged with conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity, conspiracy to commit extortion aiding and abetting extortion, conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, wire fraud and filing false tax returns, according to court records.

The case will be prosecuted in Jacksonville federal court, authorities said. They did not elaborate on where in Arizona he was taken into custody.

From 2013 through 2109, Siegmeister was the elected state attorney for the 3rd Judicial Circuit of Florida, covering the counties of Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor.

According to the indictment, Siegmeister conspired with defense attorney Michael O’Steen, 41, of Old Town, who represented clients being prosecuted by Siegmeister’s office, federal prosecutors said. From November 2017 to May 2019, Siegmeister solicited bribes from O’Steen in exchange for the favorable disposition of charges filed against his clients, officials said.

In one case, Siegmeister helped O’Steen extort $60,000 from a client by withholding a pre-trial intervention agreement, investigators said. O’Steen has been charged with conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity, conspiracy to commit extortion, aiding and abetting extortion and failure to file a form in connection with the receipt of currency.

In a separate case, Siegmeister told defense attorney Ernest Maloney Page IV in September 2017 that he would dismiss two DUI charges for one of Page’s clients in exchange for a $20,000 discount on a tractor Siegmeister wanted to buy from the client’s dealership, officials said. They added that Siegmeister later bought the discounted tractor and allowed the client to plead guilty to reckless driving with alcohol and refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test. Page pleaded guilty last August to conspiracy to commit federal program bribery.

From approximately January 2010 through April 2016, Siegmeister engaged in a scheme to defraud an elderly person under his legal guardianship, prosecutors said. Siegmeister transferred the victim’s assets to himself and created a will for the victim that designated Siegmeister’s relative as the sole beneficiary of the victim’s estate, officials said.

Court records didn’t list attorneys for Siegmeister or O’Steen.

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