Ex-State Attorney Siegmeister indicted
Faces maximum penalties of up to 129 years imprisonment
-Photo: SVT Archives
By Tami Stevenson
Former Third Circuit State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister, 52, who suddenly ‘retired’ with one year left on his term, in December of 2019, was arrested last Friday in Arizona. He was indicted on multiple charges that range from tax fraud to extortion and bribery after a lengthy investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation division.
Along with Siegmeister, the 33 page indictment, filed in open court on February 24, in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville, also lists Dixie County Attorney Marion Michael O’Steen, 41, as a defendant. According to the the U.S. Attorney’s Office release, O’Steen is facing maximum penalties of up to 50 years imprisonment. The indictment consists of 12 counts with Siegmeister named in eleven of them and O’Steen named in four.
According to the indictment, Siegmeister and O’Steen allegedly conspired to reduce sentencing on certain clients of O’Steen for money, including an attempted first degree murder charge.
Another charge of bribery for reduced sentence lists Madison Attorney Ernest Maloney Page, IV, as one of the conspirators.
The release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office states, “On August 20, 2020, Page pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery for his role in facilitating this transaction.”
Siegmeister is also being charged for allegedly cheating an elderly transient man’s estate out of nearly a million dollars, stemming mostly from 10,248 shares of Coca-Cola Common Stock. Known only as L.T. in the indictment, later being identified from other sources as Leonard Whitman Thomas. The indictment states that L.T. was an 80 year old man that had physical and mental deficiencies.
The indictment states that, from an unknown date, but at least from in or about January 2010 through April 2016, “…Siegmeister would and did petition the Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Circuit, in and for Columbia County, Florida, to become the guardian for L.T., who was then 80 years of age, on which petition Siegmeister noted that L.T. owned 10,248 shares of Coca-Cola Common Stock, with a value of $664.751.93.”
It stated that Siegmeister petitioned the court for expenses associated with the preparation of a will for L.T. that named Siegmeister’s relative as the sole beneficiary of L.T.’s assets and designated Siegmeister as the Personal Representative of the L.T. Estate. “…while still serving as the court-appointed voluntary guardian for L.T., Siegmeister would and did convert and caused to be converted L.T.’s assets into cash, which was deposited to accounts under Siegmeister’s control.”
According to news sources, the value of L.T.’s holdings kept rising after his death in 2015. The FBI wrote that “Siegmeister (allegedly) diverted a total of $985,000 in L.T. assets to himself” after L.T. died.
Siegmeister’s first appearance in federal court was Monday, in Flagstaff, Arizona. According to court documents, Siegmeister was represented by a designated public defender for this initial appearance and is being temporarily detained in the custody of the United States Marshal. A Detention Hearing and Identity/Removal Hearing is set for March 4, 2021, at 10:00 AM in U.S. District Court of Arizona.
O’Steen pleaded not guilty, Friday, in federal court in Jacksonville and was released on $100,000 bond.
The Third Judicial Circuit encompasses the following seven counties: Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor.