Former state attorney, Jeffrey Siegmeister, received a 40-month prison sentence Monday, for everything from taking bribes to taking advantage of an elderly man and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from him.
Siegmeister is also required to pay the money back to the estate of the man and the IRS. Siegmeister, was a state attorney for the 3rd circuit, representing Columbia County and six other North Florida counties for nearly seven years.
He resigned in December 2019 and pleaded guilty in February to federal charges including conspiracy, extortion and fraud as part of a plea deal.
As soon as Siegmeister was caught, he cooperated immediately with the U.S. Government’s investigation. That actually got him a lower sentence, but the judge stopped short of letting him out of jail today after only 20 months because he’s undercut the public’s faith in the judicial system.
The indictment shows the FBI caught on to what Siegmeister was doing and that’s when Siegmeister fled the state. He was eventually caught in Arizona.
News4JAX anchor and reporter Scott Johnson attempted to speak with Siegmeister’s brother after the sentencing Monday, he declined.
“I don’t have any comment,” he said.
In court Monday, they discussed how Siegmeister would take bribes, as state attorney he was known to look the other way and not prosecute people who financially supported his political career. Another thing discussed in court today was that Siegmeister had a cattle business separate from his government job and he would often ask people he dealt with as state attorney whether they would be willing to buy one of his bulls.
David Phelps testified against him today. He took over briefly as state attorney when Siegmeister resigned.
He says several people prosecuted by Siegmeister want their cases reviewed. He also says Siegmeister was known to tell his assistants to increase people’s jail sentences, then in court today actually asked for his own sentence to be lessened.
“That’s actually something Mr. Siegmeister mentioned and so, I’m not there anymore,” Phelps said. “But the problem with something like what Siegmeister did. The problem with what they do is it does call into question unfair treatment. Unequal treatment. So certainly people are going to be concerned about that.”
In court today Siegmeister asked for even more leniency saying his life, is a “nuclear wasteland of what I’ve left behind”. But the judge, said she had given her share of leniency telling him that he had been “undermining the confidence” in our justice system and he “allowed individuals to face no consequences”. She didn’t do that today.
So in addition to 40 months in prison, 20 of which have already been served, Siegmeister has to pay more than $518,000 to the estate of the man he took advantage of and more than $90,000 to the IRS for tax evasion.