HomeNewsCrime & CourtsEmbattled Augusta Commissioner requests more time in his federal trial

Embattled Augusta Commissioner requests more time in his federal trial

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Attorneys for suspended District 4 Commissioner Sammie Sias has asked 18 for more time to file pre-trial motions in his federal court trial.

The request, filed November 18, cites the amount of materials the prosecution has provided during the discovery phase. The latest request points to highly technical computer data which requires experts to examine.

Defense attorneys also wrote they are coordinating with prosecutors to physically inspect the items. The document says the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Augusta for the Southern District of Georgia does not oppose the request to extend the deadline to Jan. 18, 2022.

There is no word when the court will rule on Sias’ latest request for more time to prepare for trial.

This is the second request for additional time Sias has requested. On Aug. 19, the court granted extending the deadline to November, also to allow defense attorneys to review the materials provided. In granting that request, the court ruled “the motion is not for the purpose of delay, but in the furtherance of justice, and to protect Defendant’s right to a fair trial. The Court also finds that the motion is for the purpose of allowing reasonable time necessary, assuming the exercise of due diligence, for the effective preparation of defense counsel.”

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Sias’ legal problems began with an FBI raid of his home in August 2019 that resulted in investigators seizing computers and boxes of documents connected to alleged corruption related to his management of the city-owned Jamestown Community Center.

Augusta commissioners requested the investigation following accusations made in a letter from a woman claiming to be Sais’ ex-lover. The woman, Willa Hilton, also worked for Sias at the community center.

Hilton alleged that Sias drank alcohol, packed a firearm, verbally abused summer campers, and watched porn on the job. She also accused the commissioner of having his hands in the taxpayers’ till. According to Hilton’s letter, Sias submitted forged invoices for repair work at the center that were paid out of SPLOST funds. He is also alleged to have written himself checks payable to “cash” out of those same tax funds.

A two-county federal indictment was filed on July 6. The indictment alleges that on or about Aug. 5, 2019, Sias “did knowingly alter, destroy, mutilate, conceal, and coverup records, documents and other objects, to wit, digital files belonging to Sandridge Community Association (SCA), which included invoices, spreadsheets, work orders, payments, agendas, minutes, financial reports and other documentation of Jamestown Community Center (Jamestown), Jamestown Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), SCA Board of Directors, SCA Summer Camp, with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence the investigation and proper administration of a federal criminal grand jury investigation.”

The second count of the indictment alleges that on or about Aug. 9, 2019, Sias “did willfully and knowingly make a materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statement and representation in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, an agency of the United States,” when Sias told an FBI special agent that he had provided all electronic and paper files in his possession related to the investigation.

By August 30, 2021, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an order suspending Sias from office. Commissioners voted to appoint former District 4 Commissioner Alvin Mason to the seat until Sias’ trial is over or his term ends.

MORE: Augusta Commission to Vote on Sias Replacement

Sias was arraigned on Aug. 4 and posted bond. The terms of the bond include Sias surrendering his passport, not travel outside the court’s boundaries, do not possess any firearms and observe a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Sias must also have no contact with any of the victims or witnesses involved in the case.

Those restrictions prompted a request that Sias be permitted to travel to Cordele, Ga. to visit family. Cordele is in the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Georgia. That request was granted Oct. 8.

Dana Lynn McIntyre is a Staff Reporter with The Augusta Press. You can reach her at [email protected] 

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