Witnesses take stand on day 2 of the Sammie Sias trial

Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 6:41 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Wednesday was the second day of former Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias’ federal trial.

Seven witnesses took the stand.

Some of that testimony focused on if Sias deleted public documents during an investigation. He’s also charged with lying to a federal agent. Those charges could land Sias in federal prison for up to 20 years if he’s convicted.

Day two got off to a slow start with the prosecution’s first witness.

For over two hours, the defense went through a lengthy process of acquiring “Volume Shadow Copies” of deleted files with the FBI computer analyst, who is also the trial’s first witness as someone who looked through Sammie Sias’ devices back in 2019.

They were able to open two links of data, essentially recovering a snapshot of a previously deleted file. Through more questioning, the defense justified that you would need a separate program or physically destroy a hard drive to completely remove a digital file. Implying the FBI could go back and attempt to access any of the files that are said to be deleted, but not completely destroyed.

The prosecution redirected saying the act of deleting is still intentional, and despite any effort, not all of the deleted files could be recovered.

After lunch, the trial went through six witnesses from 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm.

First, Donna Williams, Augusta’s Finance Director.

The prosecution went through and established with Director Williams that the city of Augusta entered into an MOU with the Sandridge Community Association for $150,000 in SPLOST money. This started on March 18th, 2014, and was intended for improvements to the Jamestown Community Center.

The defense then questioned Director Williams and established that Jamestown received an extra $32,000 outside of SPLOST funds, is managed by a private association (Sandridge), and that the city still owns the community center regardless of any agreements with Sandridge.

Two previous treasurers with Sandridge then got on the stand.

Current Sandridge President, Dr. Jacklin Fasin, testified that she immediately called Sias after receiving the original subpoena on July 30th of 2019. She testified that she did this because she didn’t receive receipts, bank statements, or invoices, which were all managed by Sias. After reading the subpoena to Sias on the phone, he replied “I’m not surprised.”

The U.S. prosecution says this was in regard to those financial files that Doctor Fasin says she was never in charge of.

In response, the defense pointed out through questioning that the FBI also asked Dr. Fasin about Ms. Willa Hilton in interactions since the subpoena was served.

Olivia Scott, a member of the Sandridge community, said she left as Treasurer because she felt uncomfortable with not receiving all financial invoices while working under Sias.

The jury ended the day hearing from three vendors Sias bought materials from for the community center.

After jurors left, the prosecution and defense argued over a witness that will appear Thursday, a forensic accountant for the FBI.

By the end of the day, it was established that Sias had near complete control of Jamestown Community Center while he was serving as president for Sandridge.

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