AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — The U.S. District Attorney’s Office requested Friday that a motion by former Augusta Commissioner Sammie Sias to see a new trial or be acquitted on guilty charges that he destroyed documents and lied to federal agents be dismissed.
“Courts have interpreted… to require a new trial “in the interests of justice” in situations in which the substantial rights of the defendant have been jeopardized by errors or omissions during trial. The introduction of the September subpoena was not error and its introduction does not merit a new trial,” the government’s response reads.
In regards to an acquittal, the prosecution argues that their evidence against Sias was sufficient enough to sustain a conviction.
“In considering a Rule 29 (acquittal) motion, the Court “must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, and determine whether a reasonable jury could have found the defendant (Sias) guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
On Count 1 of destroying documents, prosecutors say the jury “rejected the defense’s position that the files were always present and recoverable and accepted the Government’s position that the files were deleted and even if restored were altered or mutilated and not in the same condition as when they were deleted by Sias.”
Sias’ defense team asserts that the deleted files in question “were recoverable by a Microsoft Windows recovery process without the use of forensic tools.”
“Furthermore, the defendant ignores that the deleted files that were recovered from the Volume Shadow Copy were markedly different from the original files deleted by Sias; hence those files were “alter[ed], destroy[ed], mutilate[d], conceal[ed] or cover[ed] up,” said the response.
On Count 2 of lying to a federal agent, Sias told a special agent that he turned over “all the electronic gear” when asked if he gave the government “all of the electronic files and paper files” that he had. Prosecutors say Sias failed “to specifically set forth how the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to sustain a conviction.”
“The jury found that the evidence was sufficient beyond a reasonable doubt to satisfy the elements of both crimes charged and rendered guilty verdicts as to counts one and two,” the response reads.
The response argues that Sias can’t meet the necessary evidence challenges to overturn his conviction.
When it comes to the SPLOST evidence against Sias, Sias’ defense team argues that the evidence “had no bearing on counts one and two” and was “unfairly prejudicial.” The evidence included vendor witnesses, forensic account, purchases, and receipts.
The prosecution attests that the evidence “was necessary to show the jury that the deleted records were relevant to the crime under investigation,” and that the evidence “was relevant and probative as to Sias’s motive to delete records.”
“The government was entitled to provide evidence to the jury to explain why the Defendant, and no one else, had the motive to delete the files in question,” the response reads, “The jury was entitled to know the impact of Sias deleted thousands of files and then lying to the FBI about that act. They were entitled to understand that the FBI was legitimately investigating the propriety of SPLOST expenditures by the defendant and that the deleted files were material and relevant to a review of the SPLOST expenditures by the defendant.”
A judge has not yet ruled on the response, and another hearing is set for Tuesday.