The public corruption investigation that has gripped Tallahassee for the last three years has expanded, according to law enforcement sources close to the investigation.
Now, it has wrapped its tendrils around state courts in North Central and Northwest Florida.
It isn’t clear which judges have caught investigators’ eyes, but there is certainly some overlap with the investigation that snared Scott Maddox, a former Tallahassee City Commissioner.
While judicial misconduct is typically investigated by Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Committee, the fact that federal investigators are now looking into cases in Tallahassee means the fallout from the ongoing public corruption investigation is far from over.
A hint on who may be in the crosshairs: one of the Leon County judges who was supposed to oversee Maddox’s disbarment was pulled from the case with no real explanation.
Some threads also connect back to the investigation that resulted in Jeff Siegmeister’s indictment earlier this year. The former State Attorney represented Florida’s 3rd Judicial Circuit, and sources say the feds are digging into judges from that Circuit as well.
A refresher: Siegmeister was arrested after accepting payments to close criminal cases as serious as attempted murder, according to an indictment.
Siegmeister’s circuit included Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee and Taylor counties. Other counties of interest in the probe: Alachua, Bay, Lake and Walton.
In many of the counties, investigators are poring over judges’ personal financial and business interests, as well as those of their family members, and cross-checking them with rulings that don’t pass the smell test — and there are quite a few.
It’s unclear what they’ve already found, whether they’ve honed in on a particular court, or just how many judges could be in hot water. What is clear, however, is that a lot of them are feeling the heat.