Day 3 of the Sammie Sias trial: what we know now
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Witness testimonies continued Thursday in the federal trial for former Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias.
The trial continued today with more witness testimony after jurors heard from seven witnesses on Tuesday. Some of the witness 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.
Before jury entered court today at 9 a.m., a judge ruled in favor of the U.S. to continue to present evidence that explains the scope of the case. This means jurors will be allowed to see evidence that Sias possibly had a crime to obstruct in order to commit Obstruction of Justice.
The first witness called Wednesday morning was FBI Forensic Accountant Megan Poelking.
FOLLOW THE SIAS TRIAL
The prosecution was able to establish that Poelking did not receive enough material from the investigation to finish or draw any conclusions from her investigation, of a mixture of business and personal bank records from Sias, Jamestown, or Sandridge. The prosecution emphasized that she got bank records from Wells Fargo, but didn’t receive any bank records or receipts from Sammie Sias.
Poelking testified that she identified $137,000, from bank statements, in checks from Sandridge’s SPLOST account that went to Sias’ personal account.
The defense then established through questioning that the investigation could not conclude criminal action occurred.
Then two FBI agents got on the stand.
Special Agent Marcus Kirkland, who was present for the search of Sammie Sias’ home on August 8, 2019, took the stand first.
He provided a timeline that the search of Sias’ house started at 6:31 a.m. and ended at 10:50 a.m. that day. He told the court that authorities took around 266 pictures, a few of which were presented to the jury in breaking down the search.
Kirkland emphasized the discovery of an outbuilding behind Sias’ house that worked as a make-shift office. Inside this office, they found Sias’ HP work computer inside a computer bag next to his desk, and two computer towers were recovered. Kirkland said no USBs or thumb drives were found during this search.
Kirkland also said that Sias was not home at the time of the search as he was being interviewed by the GBI in a separate location while the search took place. Search warrants were placed on a coffee table following the search and seizure of a number of Sias’ belongings at the conclusion of going through his home. A property receipt was also left on the coffee table and signed by Kirkland and lead investigator McGee.
After his testimony, the defense pointed out that Sias was not personally handed the warrant in person, and they questioned the picture showing the warrants placed on Sias’ coffee table could not be identified by the picture taken by the FBI.
Next, the lead FBI agent of the investigation into Sammie Sias in 2019, Charles McGee III, took the stand.
The prosecution began to establish the timeline of 2019:
On January 23, 2019, the prosecution says District 8 Commissioner Brandon Garrett approached agent McGee saying that SPLOST 6 funds for the Jamestown Community Center were being mishandled. McGee then Met with Garrett on January 26 to talk more.
Following this, agent McGee issued 54 grand jury subpoenas, which included a subpoena to Dr. Jacklin Fasin, president of Sandridge at the time, on July 30, 2019, at the Jamestown Community Center. Dr. Jacklin immediately placed a call to Sias after being served in front of Agent McGee, saying Sias had all bank records and statements, and she had none.
On August 5, 2019, a subpoena was issued to Sias with a time to comply on August 6.
It was found out through later investigation of Sias’ computer on August 8, 2019, that he accessed related SPLOT FILES 15 minutes after receiving a phone call from Dr. Fasin.
CART agent (witness 1) later told McGee on August 30 that thousands of files had been deleted from Sias’ computer.
The court broke for lunch after this testimony.
After the U.S government rested its case at 4:35 p.m., the judge emphasized to the defense the need to finish by Friday because of scheduling conflicts with the prosecution.
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