The 70-year-old Tuten was brought into Richmond County Superior Court in a jail-issued bright orange jumpsuit and shackles. Tuten was arrested Thursday in a joint state and federal investigation that continues.
District Attorney Ashley Wright said Friday that the FBI received information in July that something was suspicious about property kept by the coroner.
If someone dies with no immediately known heirs, the coroner is to secure any property left with the body, Wright said. If such property isn’t claimed after four years, it is supposed to be turned over to the school board, Wright said.
The nearly 10-year-old vehicle Tuten is accused of appropriating belonged to a man who died on April 11, Wright said. The owner had lived in an apartment, and in such circumstances vehicles have been stored at the coroner’s office, she said.
But Tuten is suspected of keeping the 2004 Nissan Altima and using it as his personal vehicle. In May the car was serviced and Tuten paid for it. The tag on the vehicle was issued for a trailer that Tuten owns, Wright said.
Although the case might be turned over to federal prosecutors and indicted quickly, the current charge is a state case, Wright said.
Wright requested special conditions for bond to prohibit Tuten from going to the coroner’s office or using any county IT network. She also asked for Tuten to surrender any county property and any firearms.
Defense attorney Danny Durham said Tuten had no issue with complying with the special conditions of bond. He is needed at home as the caretaker for his wheelchair bound wife, Durham said.