At first it seemed like a story straight out of a Hollywood production. It had all the classic ingredients: corruption, sex and betrayal — even an FBI raid to ramp up the action.
Unlike a film, though, the Sammie Sias investigation has dragged on for almost a year-and-a-half with no resolution. Sias is Augusta’s District 4 Commissioner who is under investigation for alleged corruption related to his management of the city-owned Jamestown Community Center.
Both the GBI and the FBI are involved in the investigation, and both took part in a raid on Sias’s home in August 2019. Sias has not been charged with any crime stemming from the investigation.
Augusta/Richmond County 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 federal grand jury empaneled in Savannah in August 2019 to look into the allegations against Sias has not yet reported its findings. According to GBI Chief Investigator Pat Morgan, the investigation is still active, and he added that “We do not have any timeline for completion.”
That news doesn’t sit well with Sias’ fellow commissioner Marion Williams.
“I think they [the GBI] are asleep. People need to know what’s going on one way or another,” says Williams.
He added that he and other commissioners always had concerns about ethical issues regarding a sitting commissioner managing a city-owned property.
“I felt like I was hollering in the wilderness,” Williams says.
Williams says that Hilton’s allegations of Sias being abusive toward the children at the community center is what bothers him most. The Department of Family Services is currently investigating the abuse accusations and would not comment on the charges against Sias. While nothing is known about the GBI and FBI, those law enforcement agencies may be looking into the possible financial corruption. If the paper trail proves Hilton correct and Sias is charged with a crime, he could face jail time if convicted.
While his colleagues may be frustrated with the drawn out state and federal investigations, Sias remains stoic.
“I have served this community since 1989. I’m continuing to have my community breakfasts, and I will continue to do what I do,” Sias said when contacted by The Augusta Press. “The FBI can do what they want to do. I don’t care.”
Sias’ commission term expires in 2022, and he is not eligible to run again due to term limits.