State officials are seeking to recover more than $345,000 from a former North Florida prosecutor who drew the money from a retirement account before pleading guilty to corruption charges.
The State Board of Administration, which oversees retirement funds, filed a lawsuit Monday in Leon County circuit court against Jeffrey Siegmeister, who served from 2013 to 2019 as state attorney in the 3rd Judicial Circuit in Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor counties.
Siegmeister, 54, pleaded guilty last year to federal conspiracy, wire fraud, and tax charges that, in part, involved allegations that he sought bribes from a defense attorney in exchange for giving favorable treatment to the attorney’s clients. The conspiracy charges related to bribery and extortion.
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Siegmeister was sentenced in October to 40 months in prison and is an inmate at a minimum-security federal prison camp in Pensacola, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website.
Information attached to the lawsuit said Siegmeister received four distributions, totaling $345,524, in 2020 from his 401(k)-style investment plan account in the Florida Retirement System.
The lawsuit pointed to part of the Florida Constitution that says public officials convicted of felonies “involving a breach of the public trust” forfeit their retirement benefits.
“Defendant has therefore forfeited his right to the investment plan funds due to him based on his plea and conviction of the four federal felony crimes that were committed within the course and scope or period of his employment with his employer, the States Attorney Division (of the state Justice Administrative Commission),” the lawsuit said.
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Retirement officials sent a notice in December to Siegmeister about forfeiture of the money. The lawsuit said he did not challenge the notice or pay back the money.
A sentencing order in October also required Siegmeister to pay $518,803 in restitution related to his plea in the wire-fraud charge. Siegmeister was accused of defrauding a probate court and an estate while serving as a volunteer guardian of a man, according to a news release last year from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“While serving as the voluntary guardian, Siegmeister admitted to inflating the expenditures incurred by L.T. (the man) in a filing to the probate court and to diverting more than $500,000 in assets from L.T.’s estate to pay Siegmeister’s own personal expenditures in 2015 and 2016,” the Justice Department news release said. “Siegmeister also admitted that he had failed to report the diverted funds on his tax returns.”
The Florida Supreme Court last year revoked Siegmeister’s law license after he pleaded guilty to the charges.
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