I-TEAM: Thousands of felony charges dropped by local judges

If you're the victim of a crime in Richmond, Columbia, or Burke counties and you haven't heard anything about your case in a while you might want to check it.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 8:22 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - If you are the victim of crime in Richmond, Columbia, or Burke Counties, and you haven’t heard anything about your case in a while, you might want to check on it.

An all-new I-TEAM investigation is exposing local judges dropped at least 2,600 charges, and we’re not talking about misdemeanors.

These are felonies, and the timing might not be a coincidence.

You take a picture to preserve a memory, but Edgardo Coscia isn’t a man Aspen LeBlanc likes to remember.

It appears Edgardo Coscia is also one our local courts tried to forget. Meredith Anderson: “Does it make you lose faith in the system?” Aspen LeBlanc: “Yeah.” It’s a system that, at first, seemed to let a man indicted on two counts of child molestation totally off the hook. “As long as you flee the country and you know, disappear. You’re good to go,” LeBlanc said.

The I-TEAM started asking questions.

“Nothing was really prompted until you asked for my case file,” said LeBlanc.

The I-TEAM was able to get a copy of LeBlanc’s case file because when we asked for it, the case was closed. The case wasn’t closed because it went to trial. No jury had ever heard it, and the only decision a judge had made was to dismiss it. The reason? Even though he was indicted on two counts of child molestation, no one ever arrested him.

“I could have maybe gotten it if it was a misdemeanor or something. Like this -- two felonies against a child? Like, come on,” LeBlanc said.

That’s just LeBlanc’s case. Documents show Eddy, as he was known, was no stranger to law enforcement. The I-TEAM uncovered law enforcement records not even in her case file.

We obtained documents from Sarasota County, Florida that detailed a rape allegation. Coscia was never arrested for that crime, either. Turns out “he couldn’t be located for an interview.”


That’s not the only pattern seeming to emerge here. The Sarasota State Attorney’s Office seems to take issue with the victim not reporting the incident until 37 days later, even though the Sarasota County deputy wrote in his affidavit she was afraid for her safety.

LeBlanc’s file includes several threatening text messages, but the I-TEAM uncovered other reports missing from LeBlanc’s file.

Another woman in Florida told law enforcement she was a victim, too. She reported Coscia was threatening her as well. There are three reports in all. Deputies admit they can’t find him, and the victim tells investigators “he travels the country playing polo.”

Eddy is from Argentina, the world capitol of polo, but it appears he was using the “Sport of Kings” as his pawn.

Amy Coscia: “My dad was a groom.”

Aspen: “Yeah, he told everybody that he was a professional polo player.”

Meredith: “But your uncle was a polo player, right?”

Amy: “Right. And still is.”

Amy Coscia is Eddy’s daughter. The girls met when Aspen LeBlanc’s grandmother started dating Eddy, who introduced himself as a professional athlete.

“That’s what my grandma said,” said LeBlanc. “She was like, you know, he would tell me all these things about Polo. And we would go out there, and I’d be like, “so when are you getting on a horse? Like, when are you gonna play? ‘”

As a groom, Eddy didn’t play professionally. He mucked out stables and took care of the horses. When LeBlanc’s grandmother had to work, he told her he would take care of Aspen, too.

“He was already gone by the time I said anything to anyone,” LeBlanc said about the alleged abuse.

Documents show her grandmother called the police when LeBlanc finally told her in January of 2010 that Eddy abused her back in 2007.

“I remember sitting in a room in front of a camera, and I had this piece of paper. And I had to mark where he touched me,” LeBlanc said.

In June 2010, a grand jury indicted Eddy on two counts of child molestation, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Multiple times, LeBlanc’s file alluded to concerns about Eddy’s relationship with his own daughter, but documents show Amy’s mother had “not had any concerns” and “did not want her daughter interviewed.”

The girls didn’t have any contact for a decade until Amy found Aspen on Facebook in 2020.

“She never messaged me because she thought I hated her,” Amy said with tears streaming down her face. “How could I hate you over what my father did to you? That’s not either of our faults. That’s only his fault. I called her and started asking her some questions, and our stories started adding up.”

Those stories haunt both girls all these years later. Aspen says she found comfort in at least knowing Eddy was a wanted man.

“Probably once or twice a year, I would go on the Columbia County warrant page, and I would look for his name to make sure he was still there.”

Recently, she noticed his name disappeared. Surely, she thought, this had to be a mistake.

“So I contacted the judge’s office. The judge’s office was like “yeah, that got signed off. You’ll have to contact the DA’s office,” Aspen said. “So I contacted the DA’s Office. They sent me to the victim advocacy office.”

She learned her case had been dismissed on a “want of prosecution.” Basically, the “case is closed” because Judge Wade Padgett noted nothing had happened with it since 2010. The document reads as follows: “the case has not been tried.” “The arrest warrant has not been executed.”

“Had I not looked into it, I would have never known,” Aspen said. “I would have never found out because they didn’t have the decency to call either.”

The order for the case to be closed came on March 24, 2021. It was officially filed with the court on June 17, 2021. That was just in time for a very important date. July first, Columbia County’s split from the Augusta Judicial Circuit would be official. Lawmakers passed a bill, and Governor Brian Kemp signed it into law. Richmond and Burke Counties would still be grouped, but Columbia County would now be on its own. It appears a lot of court cases like Aspen’s could have been collateral damage.

Multiple sources tell the I-TEAM hundreds of other cases were dismissed around the same time, but it looks like that number might be in the thousands.

In Burke County alone, the I-TEAM uncovered judges dismissed 1,1556 charges in June of 2021. Richmond County was reluctant to give us the information at first, but eventually gave us a list of 1,143 dismissed charges.

They range in severity from murder to armed robbery to aggravated assault to rape to child molestation. We are still working to get a list from Columbia County.

“Did someone just put a bunch of cases in front of you and be like, you know, ‘these are all really old. Sign ‘em off.’ And you just didn’t care,” asked LeBlanc. “So you just kept going?”

News 12 reached out to Judge Padgett via his office. Judge Padgett is the one who closed Aspen’s case. We have yet to get a response.

“It’s just it’s hard knowing I’m not the only one in this situation now, too,” Aspen said.

It’s why Aspen is fighting back. She’s fighting for those of you who watched this story on News 12 or those reading it right now on wrdw.com or the WRDW app who might be affected by this and not even know it yet.

“I would go look at the court dockets and see if it still exists because mine doesn’t,” she told the I-TEAM.

Not long after our interview with Aspen, that changed. Days later, a new grand jury met and indicted Edgardo Coscia on the same charges.

At first, it popped up online as “2 misdemeanor charges.” When the I-TEAM asked the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office about it, we were told they were felony child molestation charges, and the website quickly changed to reflect that.

Columbia County District Attorney Bobby Christine declined an on-camera interview, but when asked if he was able to reindict because Coscia fled the country, he wrote the following: “There is reason to suspect the Defendant resided outside of the Court’s jurisdiction before indictment and, coupled with the timing of disclosure of the alleged criminal activity in the indictment, we argue that the statute of limitations has been “tolled” in such a way as to permit re-indictment.”

That means if Coscia did go back to Argentina, the case can’t be dropped just because he ran from it. It can’t legally be considered an old case because the clock should have never started ticking on it. Also, DA Christine wrote the following: “Re-indictment was possible because the Judge dismissed WITHOUT PREJUDICE, meaning the case could be brought back and prosecuted at a later date.”

“People make mistakes, but you don’t make the same mistake over and over. You don’t act like it never happened, Amy Coscia said tearfully. “You can come forward about your mistakes. You come clean.”

Aspen LeBlanc says her fight for justice is no longer just for her or the other victims in her case file. She’s fighting for other victims who might not know their case was dismissed.

“I feel like I’ve grown into the woman, I wanted to protect me when I was a kid,” said Aspen.

What’s next for Aspen’s case? If arrested and convicted, Coscia faces 5-20 years on each count of child molestation because this would be his first offense. Remember that rape allegation in Florida? Had he been arrested and convicted, he would have been in prison when he allegedly molested Aspen, but hypothetically, that conviction would have meant mandatory life without parole for Aspen’s charges.

As for the other charges dismissed, we are posting both lists we have so far. Plus, the I-TEAM will be combing through them in the coming days and weeks. We have a lot more digging to do.

Burke County:

Richmond County: