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Local IT expert talks evidence recovery in Commissioner Sias’ case

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Today the fate of Commissioner Sammie Sias still lies in the hands of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp after the commissioner was indicted on federal charges just last week.

The Southern District of Georgia has a 90 percent conviction rate. With odds so great we took a look back at what brought us here and how evidence could seal the deal.

If the commissioner decides to take this case to trial whether he wins or loses all depends on the evidence the prosecutor has stacked against him.

He called it the elephant in the room.

“You’ve seen in the news some information concerning Commissioner Sias,” said Sias, District 4 Augusta commissioner.

Information being two federal charges, one for lying to a federal investigator the other for destroying records. During his community breakfast on Saturday, Sias vowed to fight.

But let’s take it back. It all started at the Jamestown Community Center, where he served as director.

The employee Sias admitted to having a two-decade-long affair with alleged he misused money at the center. A short time later the Augusta Commission asked the GBI to investigate her claims. We knocked on her door today but no answer.

The FBI alleges Sias destroyed records just three days before the raid at his home. Attorneys say those records can include paper, emails, or files on a computer.

“I would say 90 percent of people really don’t understand that, you know, just deleting the file and then emptying out the trash can does actually get rid of that data,” said Cody Smith, senior solutions architect at Hypertek Solutions.

Smith is a local information technology expert. He says if Sias deleted files off a computer it probably wouldn’t be that hard for investigators to recover.

“Usually it’s pretty simple for any competent it person to start recovering those files,” said Smith.

He also says even partial or missing files could be enough.

“Because it is very hard to delete files permanently and intentionally, especially if they see a vast amount of files deleted they can use have proof as this person was purging their desktop of any relevant data,” he said.

“Win or lose. But I guarantee you, it’s a fight,” said Sias.

Smith says the process of piecing deleted data back together could take anywhere from a couple of hours to several weeks, it just depends on how corrupted the device might be. If Sias does take this case to trial, that would begin within six months of his arraignment data.

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