More than two months after former Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten was arrested on a theft charge, new Coroner Mark Bowen said he is ready to build back trust in the office he inherited.
Bowen, the chief deputy coroner under Tuten, was sworn in by Richmond County Probate Judge Harry B. James III at the Augusta Judicial Center on Saturday. He will serve the rest of Tuten’s four-year term, which began in 2012.
Tuten, 70, who worked for the coroner’s office for more than 36 years, was arrested Dec. 20. He has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of theft and five counts of violation of oath of office.
Tuten resigned Feb. 20, allowing officials to appoint his successor.
“We’re going to work to get the people’s trust back,” Bowen said. “We’re going to let them know that we are here for them and that we’re going to do things right. We’re going to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Bowen, a 14-year veteran of the coroner’s office, said he has already implemented policy changes that increase the accountability of the office when it comes to handling of property left behind by the deceased.
Kenneth Boose, who was named chief deputy coroner Saturday, said the office is also looking to implement a program to benefit at-risk youth in the community.
Boose said he has faith in Bowen, who is one of five district directors for the Georgia Coroner’s Association and was awarded the Harry Pippin Award by the association in 2010.
“He knows what the job entails,” Boose said. “I’m looking forward to it. I think we’re in for a good ride.”