Ex-North Florida state attorney pleads guilty

Former North Florida State Attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister, who represented seven counties, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges brought against him last year.

Authorities arrested Siegmeister in Arizona in February 2021. He was individually charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, wire fraud and filing false tax returns.

Siegmeister also faced charges, along with former defense attorney Marion Michael O’Steen, of conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity, conspiracy to commit extortion, and aiding and abetting extortion.

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O’Steen also has an individual charge of failure to file a form in connection with the receipt of currency.

Siegmeister, a former 3rd Judicial Circuit prosecutor, started as state attorney in 2013 before quitting in 2019. His office covered Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor counties.

Court documents say that around November 2017, Siegmeister began accepting bribes to act as state attorney in ways that favored the cases O’Steen brought forward.

In one case, prosecutors say Siegmeister extended a case so that O’Steen could keep collecting payment from his client.

In another, Siegmeister and O’Steen worked to dismiss an attempted first degree murder charge.

Before entering his role as state attorney, Siegmeister had been defrauding an elderly Columbia County man over whom he had legal guardianship.

From January 2010 to April 2016, Siegmeister worked “to defraud his ward and his ward’s estate.” As part of his scheme, Siegmeister created a Last Will and Testament for the victim that named a relative of Siegmeister as the sole beneficiary.

A sentencing date for Siegmeister has not yet been set, and the 3rd Judicial Circuit delayed the trial for O’Steen until June, according to the Florida Times-Union, who also reported that Siegmeister faces up to 48 years in prison and fines of $1 million.

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