Former State Attorney Indicted for Blackmail, Bribery, and Fraud
Lake City’s former state attorney has been indicted on a litany of charges related to settling cases in exchange for money. This is one of the most obvious and brazen corruptions of the judicial process that have made it to the news in recent years. Not since a Pennsylvania judge was convicted of selling black youths to juvenile detention centers for kickbacks has former law enforcement officials faced this severity of charges for corruption.
Jeff Siegmeister was the elected prosecutor for several rural counties throughout Florida. A second attorney from Siegmeister’s office will also face charges related to racketeering and extortion. The two men stand accused of arranging payments from criminal defendants to settle cases. One case included an attempted murder prosecution.
Siegmeister colluded with a former defense attorney. Essentially, the scam worked like this. The attorney would tell his client that he needed $75,000 (or some amount) to make the charges go away. The money would then be delivered to the state’s attorney, each attorney taking a cut. Siegmeister would then agree to reduce or drop the charges against the defendant.
Siegmeister is charged with 11 counts related to conspiracy, racketeering, extortion, bribery, fraud, corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Another attorney pleaded guilty to paying a similar bribe after a trucking company was involved in two incidents of drunk driving. The lawyer, in that case, agreed to give Siegmeister tractor-trailer parts in exchange for a reduced plea. The attorney agreed to plead guilty to bribery, conspiracy, and his license to practice law was permanently revoked.
Siegmeister is also accused of diverting assets from a wealthy deceased man’s estate to his own estate. Siegmeister took guardianship of the man prior to his death and inherited $600,000 in Coca-Cola stock. As part of the crime, Siegmeister falsified reports, thus committing wire fraud.
Assessing Siegmeister’s Defense Outlook
It’s formidable task. Siegmeister could face charges related to corruption, conspiracy, racketeering, operating an ongoing criminal enterprise, bribery, fraud, filing forged documents, tax evasion, falsifying official reports, lying to the probate court, and essentially reducing confidence in the criminal justice system. It’s the type of prosecution that prosecutors take personally. They will be looking for statutory maximums and will likely not want to see Siegmesiter out of prison for a very long time.
Talk to a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer in Florida
If you’re a corrupt public official, then you will almost certainly need a Tampa criminal attorney with experience arguing cases in federal court. Often, the feds take up cases related to public corruption because local authorities turn a blind eye. This results in a situation where the defendant is looking at extra-long sentences based on mandatory minimums imposed at the federal level. Call today and allow The Matassini Law Firm to begin preparing your defense.