Criminal Justice

Ex-prosecutor is accused of soliciting bribes from defense lawyers, defrauding man who had Coca-Cola stock

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A federal indictment accuses a former Florida prosecutor of soliciting bribes for favorable case dispositions and defrauding an elderly man after obtaining guardianship.

The former Lake City state attorney, Jeffrey Siegmeister, 52, was arrested Friday in Arizona, report Law360, the Florida Times-Union, News4Jax, a press release and the indictment.

Siegmeister was state attorney of Florida’s Third Judicial Circuit from 2013 to 2019. He is accused of discussing bribes with two defense lawyers, both of whom were also charged. The prosecutor allegedly asked for political contributions, a discount on a tractor, and purchases of bulls he owned.

One of the lawyers, 41-year-old Marion Michael O’Steen of Dixie County, is accused of seeking favorable decisions on cases involving his clients and asking Siegmeister to delay official actions to obtain more fees from a client. In return, Siegmeister allegedly solicited bribes.

In one case, O’Steen is accused of asking Siegmeister to help resolve a case for “Client B,” who was charged with keeping a gambling house, according to the indictment. O’Steen demanded $60,000 from the client for the agreement, the indictment says. Siegmeister allegedly solicited O’Steen to purchase a bull from a herd of livestock he owned and to make a political contribution in connection with the case.

After O’Steen received the money, Siegmeister allegedly sent him a text that said: “You still on for next Wednesday? Should’ve charged you triple based on your windfall lol.”

Seigmeister received $4,000 for his bull from O’Steen and O’Steen’s father; Siegmeister sold the same bull to a farmer for $3,500, prosecutors allege in the indictment.

Siegmeister is accused of seeking a discount on a tractor from a business owned by the client of another defense lawyer, Ernest Maloney Page IV. He allegedly asked for a $10,000 discount to resolve one of two DUI charges against Page’s client, or a $20,000 discount to favorably resolve both charges. Siegmeister got the $20,000 discount and allowed the client to plead guilty to a lesser charge, according to the press release.

Siegmeister is also accused of defrauding an 80-year-old man identified as “L.T.” after he was appointed as guardian. The elderly man, who is now deceased, has been previously identified as Leonard Whitman Thomas, a transient who owned Coca-Cola stock valued at more than $640,000 at the time of the guardianship petition.

Siegmeister drafted a will for the man that designated one of Siegmeister’s relatives as the sole beneficiary, prosecutors say. He is also accused of converting some of Thomas’ assets to cash and depositing the proceeds into his own accounts.

Siegmeister and O’Steen are charged with conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity, conspiracy to commit extortion, and aiding and abetting extortion. Siegmeister is also charged with conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, wire fraud, and filing false tax returns. O’Steen is also charged with failure to file a form in connection with the receipt of currency.

Page pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery for helping facilitate the tractor purchase. He agreed to have his law license permanently revoked, according to the Times-Union.

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