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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Former State Attorney Pleads Guilty To Bribery And Extortion As Part Of Conspiracy With Defense Attorney, As Well As Wire Fraud And Filing False Tax Returns

Jacksonville, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces that Jeffrey Siegmeister (53, Live Oak) has pleaded guilty to four felonies pursuant to a plea agreement. Specifically, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity—specifically, bribery and extortion—conspiracy to commit extortion, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return. Siegmeister faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for conspiring to commit extortion and wire fraud, 5 years in federal prison for conspiring to use a facility of commerce for bribery and extortion, and 3 years in federal prison for filing a false tax return. Siegmeister also agreed to forfeit $518,803.50 and 7,372 shares of The Coca-Cola Company common stock, proceeds he obtained through his commission of the offenses.

According to court documents, Siegmeister was the elected State Attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida from 2013 through 2019, and Marion Michael O’Steen was a defense attorney who represented clients being prosecuted by Siegmeister’s office. Florida’s Third Judicial Circuit encompasses Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor counties. As part of the conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity, between approximately November 2017 and May 16, 2019, O’Steen requested official acts from Siegmeister—including the favorable disposition of charges filed against his clients and the delay of official actions in order to enable O’Steen to obtain additional “fees” from at least one of his clients—for which Siegmeister solicited bribes from O’Steen. The plea agreement states that, on April 16, 2018, Siegmeister sent O’Steen four photographs of bulls he was selling, after the sentencing of one of O’Steen’s clients, indicating that Siegmeister expected O’Steen to purchase a bull from him in exchange for the favorable treatment Siegmeister had provided O’Steen’s client.

With respect to the extortion count, O’Steen solicited Siegmeister to resolve a case against another of his clients, referred to as “Client B,” through pre-trial intervention (“PTI”). The plea agreement indicates that Siegmeister made it clear to O’Steen that if O’Steen wanted Client B to get a PTI agreement, O’Steen would have to buy one of Siegmeister’s bulls. On August 17, 2018, O’Steen told Client B, “I can make everything go away all, your brothers, the other two nolle pros with you sign an agreement to pay their cost of investigation, you leave, you will not have to report but one time, uh, ah, I need $75,000 and everything goes away and you pay the money,” representing that O’Steen had favors with Siegmeister for which people would pay him.   

Siegmeister also admitted to committing wire fraud by defrauding the probate court and the estate of a man identified by the initials “L.T.” when serving as the voluntary guardian of L.T. While serving as the voluntary guardian, Siegmeister admitted to inflating the expenditures incurred by L.T. in a filing to the probate court and to diverting more than $500,000 in assets from L.T.’s estate to pay Siegmeister’s own personal expenditures in 2015 and 2016. Siegmeister also admitted that he had failed to report the diverted funds on his tax returns.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kelly S. Karase and David B. Mesrobian.

Attachment(s): 
Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Public Corruption
Tax
Component(s): 
Updated February 23, 2022