Blaming his lawyers, convicted ex-Commissioner Sammie Sias files new appeal

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 6:35 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Former Augusta Commission member Sammie Sias has filed a new appeal, months after being found guilty of destroying records in a federal investigation and then lying about it to federal investigators.

The appeal isn’t his first, but this one takes a new approach, focusing on complaints about his attorneys.

Back in August within a couple of weeks after being found guilty, he sought a new trial on the grounds that the government didn’t present sufficient evidence to convict him.

In his new appeal, he claims that in response to an FBI subpoena in 2019, he’d given to his lawyer a thumb drive containing the records in question. Sias claims that lawyer and others at his firm, Crowder Stewart, still haven’t given the drive to the FBI.

The appeal states that his lawyer was unable to represent him at trial because he might be called to testify, but that other lawyers at the firm, including Kenneth Crowder, could represent him.

Frustrated by “his attorneys’ failure to follow his instructions,” Sias began seeking outside counsel for advice on this issue, the new appeal states.

“As early as September 2021 Mr. Sias had lost confidence in Crowder Stewart and no longer trusted his attorneys,” the appeal states. “He would have fired them at the time, but was not financially able to do so.”

The appeal points to other disagreements between Sias and the lawyers at the firm.

Further, the appeal alleges the attorneys “were not adequately prepared for trial.”

The firm scheduled weekly meetings with Sias, but Stewart only attended the first three or four, the appeal claims.


“For at least one year Mr. Crowder would spend most of these meetings lecturing Mr. Sias and would accept very little of Mr. Sias’s input,” the appeal claims. “When Sias Mr. Sias requested that Mr. Crowder listen to him he would become upset.”

During trial preparation, “Mr. Sias would recommend possible defense witnesses, but Crowder Stewart expressed no interest in any witnesses with the exception of Willa Hilton,” Sias’ former lover, the appeal claims. “Mr. Sias believes that Mr. Crowder became obsessed with Ms. Hilton.”

Sias tried to show how other witnesses might help and “created graphic charts and sample questions emphasizing how to develop these witnesses,” the appeal claims, adding that most of his efforts were rejected.

“Crowder Stewart did not collaborate with Mr. Sias to develop a trial strategy,” the appeal claims. “At times the firm would give Mr. Sias some ‘homework’ to do, but once it was completed they did not accept it or express any interest in it.”

Additionally, the law firm failed to prepare Sias for the trial, the appeal alleges.

“Obviously Crowder Stewart’s trial performance was deficient, prejudicial and changed the outcome of the case,” the appeal alleges, asking that his conviction be overturned and that he be granted a new trial.

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 was criticized for managing while he was a commissioner.

FBI computer experts testified that Sias deleted about 7,000 files from a laptop computer in his possession that belonged to the Jamestown Community Center.