Former defense attorney sentenced to six months in federal prison for conspiring to bribe the elected state attorney


Date: September 7, 2022


U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Ernest Maloney Page, IV (Madison) to six months in federal prison for conspiring to bribe the elected State Attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit. The court also ordered Page to serve an 18-month term of supervised release. Page had pleaded guilty on September 3, 2020.

According to court documents, Page represented a client facing two separate driving under the influence (DUI) cases in the Third Judicial Circuit. The client managed a tractor dealership in Live Oak. Page arranged a meeting with then-State Attorney Jeffrey Siegmeister to discuss the client's pending DUI cases. Page informed Siegmeister that the client had a tractor dealership, and Siegmeister told Page he wanted to purchase a tractor. Page encouraged Siegmeister to visit the client at his dealership.

In August 2017, Siegmeister told Page that he would give favorable treatment to the client for one of his pending DUI cases for a bribe in the form of a $10,000 discount on the tractor, and that he would give favorable treatment to the client on both pending DUI cases for a bribe in the form of a $20,000 discount on the tractor. Page relayed this information to his client, who indicated he wished to accept the offer and agreed to provide the $20,000 discount to Siegmeister. Page then told Siegmeister his client had accepted the offer.

Siegmeister arranged for the client to resolve the DUI charges by pleading to reckless driving charges, which were traffic misdemeanors.

On September 20, 2017, Siegmeister's wife went to the tractor dealership and met with the client, who discounted the retail price of the tractor and accessories by $10,000, consistent with his agreement to pay Siegmeister a bribe facilitated by Page. The client also notated the sales paperwork to falsely state that the Siegmeister's provided a cash down payment of $10,150, when no such down payment was made.

On September 28, 2017, Siegmeister signed an Offer of Plea, authorizing the client to plead no contest to the misdemeanor charges of reckless driving with alcohol. On the same day, the client's plea was entered and the client was sentenced to 12 months' probation.

In March 2020, Page admitted to the FBI that he had facilitated a bribe to Siegmeister in the amount of a $20,000 discount on a tractor in exchange for a lenient resolution of two DUI cases.

Siegmeister previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use a facility of commerce for unlawful activity, that is bribery and extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return. His sentencing hearing is set for October 12, 2022.

"This action demonstrates our collective efforts to enforce the law and ensure public trust. In today's economic environment, it's more important than ever that the American people feel confident that everyone is playing by the rules," said IRS Special Agent in Charge Brian Payne. "The IRS is proud to have shared its hallmark expertise with FBI in following the money trail in this and other criminal schemes. IRS Criminal Investigation agents will continue to be on the front lines to fight corruption and tax fraud."

"The actions taken by Ernest Page put lives at risk," said FBI Jacksonville Special Agent in Charge Sherri Onks. "As an officer of the court, he facilitated corruption within the judicial system by offering items of value in exchange for reduced or dropped charges for one of his clients, who was accused of serious crimes that endangered the community. These crimes will not be tolerated by the FBI, and we will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to hold individuals in positions of authority within the justice system accountable. We specifically thank the IRS – Criminal Investigation team for their invaluable partnership in the case."

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kelly S. Karase and David B. Mesrobian.