EXCLUSIVE: Convicted Commissioner blames trial outcome on previous attorneys, asks for new trial
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - Attorneys for former Commissioner Sammie Sias amended the motion for a new trial after he was convicted by a jury on charges of obstruction of justice and making a false statement in July 2022.
In a new 14-page motion filed on March 9, Sias' new legal team cites "ineffective assistance of counsel" before, during and after the trial.
Sias was represented by lawyers from Crowder Stewart from October 2019 until August 2022. Sias is now represented by court-appointed attorney Jesse Owen.
According to the court filing, in response to a September 2019 subpoena, Sias gave a thumb drive to Crowder Stewart attorney Troy Clark in May 2020. Sias says he instructed Clark to copy the files, then turn the original to the FBI.
He continued that in April 2021 he followed up with Clark about the USB drive to which he claims Clark said he, "did not know anyone in the Department of Justice that he could trust therefore he has not yet turned over the thumb drive."
Sias alleges he pressed Crowder Stewart several times on when the thumb drive would be given to the government, but was told no each time.
The filing says Clark stopped working on Sias' case once his indictment was issued on July 6, 2021. It continues with a claim that Clark told Sias he could be called as a witness to testify regarding the thumb drive.
Sias also alleges during an initial meeting with David Stewart he asked if he would get in trouble in relation to withholding the USB drive. Sias says Stewart replied in a "sharply raised tone" that he "might be the one in trouble." Sias says when he asked Kenneth Crowder the same question he became "angry."
Sias claims he began seeking outside counsel for advice and consulted with other attorneys before and after the trial. He says he lost confidence in his legal counsel as early as September 2021. He says he was financially unable to fire Crowder Stewart at the time.
The filing says the USB drive was sent to Tec Inquiries in Florida in July 2021 for a forensic evaluation, a forensic report was received in March 2022. Sias claims his attorneys saw the report, but he never was provided with one.
Sias claims Crowder Steward planned to leave the thumb drive in Florida during the case. Sias claims he disagreed with that decision.
Read the full request for a new trial:
Sias also cites a day during his week-long trial where he says Stewart spent an entire break talking with FBI Agent McKee. McKee was one of the prosecution's main witnesses and worked the case from the beginning.
Sias alleges during this time his other attorney Kenneth Crowder was out of the courtroom completely. Sias says he sat alone at the defense table during the break without any interaction with either of his attorneys.
FOX54's Jared Eggleston was in court for the trial and says during the breaks it was not uncommon for some or all of the attorneys to leave the courtroom. He says he also saw attorneys from both sides talking on several occasions as well.
Read Sammie Sias' full deposition regarding the new revelations:
The government has until March 23 to respond to the new motion. FOX54 has reached out to all of the named attorneys for comment.
Sias' new attorney says the USB drive will be turned over to prosecutors.
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