AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Destroying records in a federal investigation and then lying about it. That’s what prosecutors accused Sammie Sias of, what a jury of his peers found him guilty of and what a judge sentenced him for Tuesday.
“I think a message was sent to the community that elected officials are not above the law and they are to be held accountable just like any other citizen,” said Moses Todd, former Augusta Commissioner.
After nearly four years, the Sammie Sias chapter of wrongdoing comes to a close. Back in July of 2019, former Jamestown Community Center Summer Program Director Willa Hilton responded to a termination accusing Sias of pocketing thousands of sales tax dollars, mistreating students, sexual harassment and a possible affair, that we quickly learned was part of a 20 year relationship.
“How you feeling now Mr. Sias?”
“How y’all you doing?” Sias replied.
“How you doing?”
“Y’all have a great day now,” he stated
“Are you going to appeal?”
Sias said, “I have an attorney.”
Sias’ attorney, Jesse Owen, choose not to make a statement now. They will have 14 days to appeal his sentence following Sias’ conviction of destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.
“Well, certainly he did a great deal of good and a great deal of harm. And we’ve had other politicians you know, that’s done the same. And they’ve all gone to federal prison for doing harm.”
Judge Randal Hall sentenced Sias to 36 months or three years in prison and three more years supervised released. He received a $5,000 fine too. The conditions of his release include a 10 p.m. curfew, urine and DNA testing, and relinquishing financial information.
“Commissioner Sias really clawed back or pushed back on me coming down and addressing the issue of corruption that I thought was going on. And as President of I Love Augusta, we will continue to fight for transparency against waste, fraud and abuse,” Todd told us.
U.S. Attorneys outlined what they called Sias’ unaccountability, from Mayor Hardie Davis alerting the GBI to look into possible misuse of SPLOST dollars back in August of 2019 to the immediate FBI probe of questions and search and seizure of documents and a laptop in his home. They claim he deleted 7,000 files pertaining to the Sandridge Community Association and SPLOST.
Sias aimed to clear his family name in court, noting his military service that he said spans more than 60 years. But prosecutors said he abused the authority given to him by the community.
Todd added, “We don’t punish folks for doing good, society don’t, we punish folks for doing harm to society.”
Sias will have to report to federal prison on Monday, August 21 at 2 p.m. He requested to go to Estill, South Carolina, a medium security facility in Hampton County with fewer than 500 inmates.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Former Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias has been sentenced to prison.
Sias was sentenced Tuesday to 36 months in prison. He will also have to pay a $5,000 fine that he can make payments on.
He will then face three years supervised release, with a 10 P.M. to 6 A.M. curfew.
Sias will report to prison on Monday, August 21 at 2 P.M.
He can appeal the sentencing in 14 days.
Sias requested his prison term be served in Estill, South Carolina.
Sias was convicted July 29, 2022 of obstruction of justice and making a false statement to a federal agent.
Early last month, the City of Augusta chose to remove the former commissioners name from a city street sign.
“The community trusted Sammie Sias to be an upstanding public official, and saw him as someone their community could count on for leadership,” said U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg. “This sentence not only will serve to deter Mr. Sias from committing any similar conduct in the future but it will also serve to deter others in similar positions from betraying the community’s trust. It’s important for the citizens of Richmond County and the Southern District of Georgia to know that their trusted public officials will be held accountable when they engage in illegal conduct. No one is above the law.”