Attorney talks future for Augusta Commissioner Sias facing federal charges
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Storm clouds are forming in Augusta’s government too. Today the U.S. Attorney’s office charged Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias with destroying records in a federal investigation and lying to the FBI. The district four commissioner is facing up to 20 years in federal prison for these charges.
It all started with allegations against Sias by a woman he admits to having a two decade long affair with. She alleged Sias misused $10,000 worth of SPLOST funds from the Jamestown Community Center. That sparked a FBI investigation in 2019 which lead to a FBI raid of Sias home to search for documents. Now he’s facing two federal charges. We spoke with an attorney about what happens now.
“So this is a statement for you all - Commissioner Sias is not running away from anything,” said Commissioner Sias in 2019.
This was Commissioner Sias back in 2019 as the FBI raided his home looking for documents. Now the U.S. Attorney is claiming he “Destroyed” documents before the raid.
“Anytime the federal government charges you, it’s always gonna be serious, but to me, what’s interesting is the fact they charged him with destroying documents and giving false statements,” said Titus Nichols.
Titus Nichols is a defense attorney. He represented whistleblower reality winner in federal court in 2018. We sat down with him to look over the Sias indictment.
“So, when it comes to prosecuting government officials, just because the DOJ has brought charges does not mean that a jury is going to convict...,” he said.
Now that charges have been filed there are two options on the table: Trial or a plea deal.
How likely is it a plea deal will be reached in this case?
“It depends on what the government is offering,” he said.
Nichols says Sias’ position and the nature of the charges could make it challenging for a prosecutor to convince a jury in trial.
“...When you’re dealing with a government official, you have a certain level of credibility that that government official brings to bear,” he said.
He says these charges could also be a tactic to get more information for additional charges.
“It really just depends on what it is, what’s the end game for the prosecution,” he said.
We spoke to Sammie Sias by phone earlier today, he did not have a comment. But Nichols says rules for this federal district do not allow those accused or their lawyers to make any public comments about the FBI’s investigation.
Copyright 2021 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.