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FBI arrests Richmond County coroner

Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 1:46 PM
Last updated Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 12:57 AM
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Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten was arrested Thursday in a joint state-federal investigation on a charge of stealing a car from a deceased man or his family.

Tuten
Tuten

District Attorney Ashley Wright said that an arrest warrant charges Tuten with the theft of a 2004 Nissan Altima about July 30. The vehicle belonged to a dead man or his heirs.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has temporarily assumed authority of the coroner’s office and personnel employed in it, according to a department statement, which says it was called to assist the FBI and district attorney’s office in executing arrest warrants on “an elected government official.”

The office’s media release adds that information surfaced during an investigation that “county property and/or employees may be subjected to potential harm.”

Under the Georgia Constitution, the sheriff has the right to “enforce laws enacted for the protection of the lives, persons, property, health and morals of the people.”

Wright and FBI supervisory senior resident agent Jim Harrison declined to say whether other charges are anticipated because of the ongoing investigation.

If Tuten is indicted on any criminal charge, the process to determine what happens to the elective office can begin, said Sasha Dlugolenski, Gov. Nathan Deal’s spokeswoman.

“Once we receive the certified indictment letter, the governor has to wait at least 14 days to appoint a review commission comprised of two coroners and the attorney general,” Dlugolenski wrote in an e-mail. “The commission then has 14 days to study the case and determine if the indictment relates to and adversely affects the administration of the elected office. The panel will decide whether or not to suspend the elected official then issue their recommendation to the governor.”

Tuten, 70, was a deputy coroner for 26 years before being elected coroner in 2004.

He previously worked as an EMT, an Augusta Police Department officer and department training officer, and a police chief in Warren County in the 1980s.

Tuten has received three awards from the Georgia Coroners Association. As a deputy coroner, he got the Harry Pippin Award in 1999; as a coroner, he received the E. Leroy Sims Distinguished Service Award in 2010 and the A.R. King Award in 2012. All awards winners are nominated by their peers.

The coroner’s office has been tainted by scandal in the past. In 2008, a former assistant coroner under Tuten pleaded guilty to stealing several gift cards at a New Year’s Eve death scene.

Charlena Graham was sentenced to seven years’ probation under the First Offender Act. Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet also ordered Graham to pay $325 in restitution and $5,000 in fines.

Comments (25) Add comment
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GiantsAllDay
9695
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/19/13 - 02:56 pm
7
6
Hopefully, he didn't steal a

Hopefully, he didn't steal a corpse.

Stunned 2
4553
Points
Stunned 2 12/19/13 - 03:12 pm
10
4
Seems to be Par for the course - In Augusta's political club

Seems to be Par for the course - In Augusta's political club. I wish someone would count up & list how many local politicians have been charged, convicted & sent to prison -in the Augusta area. (just in the last 20-30 years)..Sheriffs, Congressmen, etc. Now we have allegations concerning a Tax Commissioner & a Coroner.

augusta citizen
9474
Points
augusta citizen 12/19/13 - 03:16 pm
7
4
Facebook

Austin Rhodes posted on FB page about 45 minutes ago with some additional information. This is a shame.

dichotomy
33518
Points
dichotomy 12/19/13 - 03:52 pm
12
3
Richmond County officials are

Richmond County officials are our version of the Never Ending Story. If you are a voter in this county you never know whether to laugh, cry, or just hang your head in shame.

Dixieman
15309
Points
Dixieman 12/19/13 - 04:23 pm
7
4
Stealing from a corpse?

To GiantsAllDay: Could be cash, credit cards, jewelery, personal effects, etc...how low can you go?
BTW, I am NOT accusing anyone of anything. These are just charges so far, and every case has two sides. Let's reserve judgment and see how it plays out.

nocnoc
43440
Points
nocnoc 12/19/13 - 04:53 pm
6
2
Not going to wade in on this incident

until addition "facts" are released.

But I will say, like I said before, since ARC seems to send a majority of its suspicious death bodies off to the GBI in Atlanta why not just hire a funeral home director to fill the office. His salary coming from
transporting bodies back and forth to Atlanta?

Riverman1
84914
Points
Riverman1 12/19/13 - 05:00 pm
8
4
The FBI has been busy around

The FBI has been busy around the CSRA. We need a mugshot.

GiantsAllDay
9695
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/19/13 - 05:10 pm
9
1
Quincy never would have got

Quincy never would have got himself arrested

gargoyle
17600
Points
gargoyle 12/19/13 - 05:11 pm
7
4
We need Diogenes to do sweep

We need Diogenes to do sweep throughout Augusta politics . If he can't find a honest person maybe he could at least point out the competent public servants. Mr. Tuten isn't one of the people in government I'd expected to have charges filed against him. Guess you have to expect the unexpected here in Garden City.

itsanotherday1
43760
Points
itsanotherday1 12/19/13 - 05:11 pm
7
2
Dang!

I see what the poster meant on the other page when he said the past felons in politics were being let out to make room for more.

All I can say is SIC-UM! I can't abide politicians enriching themselves with their position. (Acknowledging that Tuten is not proven guilty of anything, just charged)

Riverman1
84914
Points
Riverman1 12/19/13 - 05:28 pm
6
3
Isn't Tuten related to

Isn't Tuten related to someone well known around here? I really can't remember who, but I do recall hearing something like that.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 12/19/13 - 05:35 pm
0
0
The primary purposes
Unpublished

in running for elected office are: gubmint perks, gubmint money and being above the law, in most cases.

GiantsAllDay
9695
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/19/13 - 06:49 pm
2
2
Does anyone in the sheriffs

Does anyone in the sheriffs office know anything about being a coroner? It that something just anybody can do? I realize that a coroner is not the same as a medical examiner, but just sayin'

Sweet son
10549
Points
Sweet son 12/19/13 - 07:04 pm
6
2
Hard to believe! Grover is an Augusta resident and been

involved in the Coroner's office since the 70's. It is incredible to think that he would have stolen from deceased in his care if that is the case. Hope it is not true but if he has committed this alleged act then he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Hope none of the rest of his deputies are involved.

Don't understand the quote from the story: “county property and/or employees may be subjected to potential harm.” Doesn't make sense.

Guess we will have to wait and see how it all falls out. Sad! :(

Sweet son
10549
Points
Sweet son 12/19/13 - 06:58 pm
3
1
@GiantsAllDay

Tuten has several Deputy Coroners that should be able to handle the job.

Riverman1
84914
Points
Riverman1 12/19/13 - 07:15 pm
6
2
Sweet Son noted, "Don't

Sweet Son noted, "Don't understand the quote from the story: “county property and/or employees may be subjected to potential harm.” Doesn't make sense."

You know that is strange. I guess that means it was like a gang and if you talked you might find the coroner visiting you on official business.

There was one incident that got my attention a few years ago. A young person related to someone important was found dead under questionable circumstances and Tuten ruled it death by natural causes without having the medical examiner get an autopsy or investigating further.

bright idea
844
Points
bright idea 12/19/13 - 07:31 pm
4
1
Pulled the keys

right out of his pocket.

John Locke
345
Points
John Locke 12/19/13 - 07:37 pm
10
2
How Many More

I wonder how many more upstanding citizens in positions of power and responsibility are dirty? Found at least two this week. FBI hounds need to keep sniffing. The CSRA appears to be job security for the FBI.

jmo
16251
Points
jmo 12/19/13 - 07:45 pm
6
2
GiantsAllDay
9695
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/19/13 - 07:55 pm
11
2
Does the FBI offer the CSRA a

Does the FBI offer the CSRA a group discount? Sort of like a COSTCO for elected officials?

WhatNow
35
Points
WhatNow 12/19/13 - 08:43 pm
8
1
Conflict?

I believe the sheriffs office controlling the coroners office sets up a very reasonable conflict of interest argument in a case. The agency responsible for investigating crimes, example murder, is now in control of processing evidence, example corpses, of said crimes. Bad idea to have things set up this way.

specsta
6507
Points
specsta 12/19/13 - 09:37 pm
4
3
Augusta (sigh)...

The timing of Tuten's arrest is very interesting.

One day after releasing George Harvey's autopsy results, which is ruled a homicide, Tuten gets locked up.

Now the RCSO "has temporarily assumed authority of the coroner’s office and personnel employed in it".

Yeah, there might be a conflict of interest argument here.

http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/FIRST-ON-12--Autopsy-results-released...

GiantsAllDay
9695
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/19/13 - 09:47 pm
8
2
An '04 Altima? Seriously?

An '04 Altima? Seriously? Either he really really really thought he could get away with it or he is suffering from the effects of being 70 years old.

rebellious
20916
Points
rebellious 12/20/13 - 12:35 am
3
3
“A lot of people feel that he was unjustly incarcerated,”

Fennoy said. “Personally, I don’t see where he did anything wrong. I was not at the trial; the federal government may be privy to information I don’t have, but I don’t personally feel like he did anything wrong.

“The community will be glad to see when he’s permanently released and glad to see him reunited with his family and to get on with his life.”

Riverman1
84914
Points
Riverman1 12/20/13 - 05:22 am
5
2
Employees being subject to potential harm

About the employees being subject to potential harm... I'm told that when things began to tighten around Tuten, he ordered the other employees not to wear their guns to work as most coroner's office employees did. He wanted to be the only one carrying. I wonder what he was contemplating?

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 12/20/13 - 05:51 am
7
4
austin who?
Unpublished

Who cares what austin whomever says and just who is this austin?

robert2410
1628
Points
robert2410 12/20/13 - 06:12 am
3
8
Apparently you care enough to
Unpublished

Apparently you care enough to comment about him dickworth. So I guess the answer to the first part of your question would be...You.

soapy_725
43686
Points
soapy_725 12/20/13 - 08:04 am
0
0
Boss Hogg. The face of southern political machines. Sooo eeee
Unpublished

Boss Hogg. The face of southern political machines. Sooo eeee

balloon2008
88
Points
balloon2008 12/20/13 - 08:36 am
2
0
Sheriffs Office Knows

Jimmy Wylds knows about the Coroners office!! He has been w the RCSO for many years ! He is the man I voted for when they held the election after Leroy left!!

internationallyunknown
4244
Points
internationallyunknown 12/20/13 - 09:09 am
0
4
Makes you wonder....did he

Makes you wonder....did he ever steal any organs to sell on the black market...?

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