Federally indicted Augusta Commissioner Sias pleads not guilty
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias appeared in federal court Wednesday over the two charges he faces after being indicted.
Sias is charged with destroying public documents and lying to a federal agent.
Sias’ hearing was scheduled for 2 p.m. He walked into the federal courthouse just before the hearing was set to start.
By 2:30, he’d pleaded not guilty and his bond was set at $50,000.
Under the unsecured bond, he must pay 10 percent, which is $5,000, by Monday.
He told attorneys he didn’t have it today. If he can’t come up with it by Monday, there will be another hearing to determine whether he is willfully not paying or is unable to pay it.
He must follow several terms of release:
- He must report to his federal supervision officer.
- He must hand over his passport.
- Travel is restricted to the federal Southern District of Georgia.
- He must avoid contact with witnesses.
- He can’t possess a firearm, use alcohol to excess, or consume narcotics or illegal drugs.
- He must also abide by a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.
- He must report any contact or run ins with law enforcement.
His attorneys reminded the court he has 28 years of service in U.S. Army and he is “good at following orders,” and that wouldn’t be a problem.
Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom.
Meanwhile, a panel selected by Gov. Brian Kemp is reviewing the indictment and will decide on whether or not to suspend Sias from office while the investigation plays out.
The charges carry a maximum statutory penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison, along with substantial financial penalties and up to five years of supervised release following completion of any prison term.
On Aug. 8, 2019, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and FBI executed a search warrant at Sias’ home. The search came just days after the commission voted in favor to ask for the GBI to investigate allegations of misconduct against Sias.
Sias was accused by a former employee of sexual misconduct, pocketing $10,000 of SPLOST funds, and mistreating children at the Jamestown Community Center -- a center he’s been long criticized for managing while he’s a commissioner
The commissioner has maintained his innocence against those allegations, previously stating they existed to attack his character and “destroy critical resources” used by the community.
As outlined in Count One of USA v. Sias, 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.”
Subsequently, Count Two 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.
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