Siegmeister guilty plea in bribery scheme delayed
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A judge has pushed back the plea hearing for Former North Florida State Attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister in his federal case.
Thursday afternoon, Judge Joel Toomey raised concerns with documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office on the maximum penalties in the case. Defense attorneys then requested the plea hearing be pushed back to Monday, February 14 at 2 pm, so the lawyers could confer with Siegmeister and discuss the changes.
Siegmeister was initially slated to stand trial this week on charges of conspiracy, bribery and extortion.
Court documents from a Jan. 24 status conference show Siegmeister “intends to enter a guilty plea,” but the clerk’s minutes do not specify to which charges Siegmeister intends to plea or what kind of prison sentence he could face for it.
Those same court records show co-defendant Marion Michael O’Steen — a lawyer based in Dixie County — is still planning to go to trial. O’Steen’s trial is now scheduled for March 7, 2022.
Siegmeister is accused of conspiring with O’Steen to reduce or drop charges against his clients in exchange for payments in the thousands of dollars.
In one case, prosecutors allege O’Steen told a client accused of keeping a gambling house that “I can make everything go away... I need $75,000 and everything goes away.”
According to the original indictment, that phone conversation was recorded.
In another case involving a different defense attorney, Ernest Maloney Page, Siegmeister is accused of offering to reduce DUI charges against a defendant in exchange for a $20,000 discount on a new tractor. Federal court records show Page has already entered a guilty plea in the conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing on May 2, 2022.
Siegmeister served as State Attorney in Florida’s Third Judicial Circuit from his election in 2012 until his abrupt resignation in December 2019. He and O’Steen were eventually indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2021.
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