Georgia city official destroyed records, lied

Southeast

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia city official has been indicted for destroying records in a federal investigation and lying to investigators, a federal prosecutor announced Wednesday.

Sammie Lee Sias, 66, of Hephzibah, who serves as District 4 commissioner on the Augusta Commission faces charges of destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation and false statements or representations made to a department or agency of the United States, Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes said in a news release.

The indictment was handed down nearly two years after FBI agents raided Sias’ home. That search came days after commissioners voted to ask the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to probe allegations of misconduct that had been levied against Sias by a former employee that he had had a 20-year-long affair with. The ex-employee accused Sias of misspending public money, child abuse and using alcohol and porn at Jamestown Community Center — allegations that he denied in 2019, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The charges carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, along with substantial fines and up to five years of supervised release, Estes’ office said.

An arraignment date on the charges has not yet been scheduled.

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The indictment alleges that in 2019 Sias knowingly altered or destroyed records belonging to Sandridge Community Association and other documentation of Jamestown Community Center, Jamestown Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, SCA Board of Directors and SCA Summer Camp to block a federal criminal investigation.

The second charge alleges Sias lied when he told an FBI agent that he had provided all electronic and paper files in his possession related to the investigation.

“The alleged cover up was not only a violation of the oath taken by this elected official, but a theft of the public’s trust,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top priorities and we will do everything in our power to pursue officials who abuse their positions.”

A telephone call by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Sias’ term on the commission runs through 2022.

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