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FBI investigating whether coroner pocketed county funds

Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 5:13 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 12:54 AM
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In addition to the possible misappropriation of a vehicle, federal agents are investigating the possibility that Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten pocketed county funds.

Grover Tuten  HAND OUT
HAND OUT
Grover Tuten


According to an affidavit used to obtain search warrants at the time of Tuten’s Dec. 19 arrests, federal agents found evidence that he had a bank account to store checks paid to the coroner’s office by the Tissue and Donor Services for Georgia Regents Health System.

The Tissue and Donor Services paid a rental fee for the use of a room at the coroner’s office, said spokeswoman Jennifer Hilliard Scott. It is estimated that it was used about 30 times in the past year and paid $500 for each case, she said.

According to the Richmond County budget, the only source of revenue from the coroner’s office is $2,000 for reports and miscellaneous charges. By the Tissue and Donor Services estimate, the program paid about $15,000 this past year.

According to the search warrants’ affidavit, federal agents seized a checkbook that Tuten may have used for the Tissue and Donor Services fees, and un-cashed checks from the program.

The agents also seized Tuten’s personal bank and tax records.

A person with knowledge of the local coroner’s office went to the FBI in July to report suspicions that property and money was missing. According to FBI agent Charles McKee’s affidavit, a vehicle taken for safe-keeping after Walter E. Thurston, 84, died on April 29, 2011, disappeared from the parking area at the coroner’s office. Although the vehicle was listed on the coroner’s inventory of Thurston’s property, it was later deleted, according to the affidavit.

Federal agents saw Thurston’s 2004 Nissan Altima at Tuten’s home on at least three occasions, found service records for work Tuten paid for on the vehicle at a Nissan dealership and discovered the tag on the car belonged to a trailer Tuten owned.

Agents also tracked down a court order Tuten submitted to Superior Court Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet that gave Tuten the authority to retain, sell or discard the vehicle. The request was presented in July 2012, more than a year after Thurston died.

Tuten, 70, has been released on bond. He was a deputy coroner for 26 years before being elected coroner in 2004.

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nocnoc
49169
Points
nocnoc 12/30/13 - 05:36 pm
7
3
If he was selling body parts

No need to say what needs to be done to him.

I would be interested in knowing if the victims
GA DMV were stated organ donors or was he harvesting from anyone
still warm, with the right parts and blood type in the RC morgue?

As explained in the article, the Vehicle issues sounds to be a gray area of the law depending on if he ran an Official legal notice in a timely manner and if no one claimed it. By him having obtained a court order for disposal through legal channels I see a typical jury easily confused in court.

Regarding Tissue and Donor Services -
What about their legal exposure / role in this?

Also Is TDS part of GRU?
http://www.gru.edu/mcg/surgery/transplant/tissue.php

itsanotherday1
48335
Points
itsanotherday1 12/30/13 - 05:34 pm
10
1
A whole lotta 'splainin needs

A whole lotta 'splainin needs to get done...

Riverman1
93728
Points
Riverman1 12/30/13 - 07:30 pm
8
3
He Needs Serious Prison Time

Nothing gray about the car. He kept it a year using it with a phony tag on it. The car was removed from the property list at the Coroner's Office. A year later he gets the judge to sign something basically giving the car to him, although the judge probably thought Tuten was acting in an official capacity and would give the proceeds to the county.

For the other money, GRU thought they were paying the county for the use of facilities. Tuten had no right to personally pocket that money.

These are heinous crimes because it's stealing from the dead and he was an official trusted with the safe keeping of the belongings of the deceased. With the revelations continuing to surface, these are the tip of the iceberg in that office. He needs serious prison time.

GiantsAllDay
10494
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/30/13 - 07:26 pm
9
2
I knew this story had legs

I knew this story had legs when I first read it.

Riverman1
93728
Points
Riverman1 12/30/13 - 07:49 pm
3
5
There's a typo in the story

There's a typo in the story someone should fix. I don't even want to mention the misspelling funny as it is. We all make typos.

corgimom
38463
Points
corgimom 12/30/13 - 08:05 pm
5
2
It just gets uglier and

It just gets uglier and uglier.

Jillian Hobday
18
Points
Jillian Hobday 12/30/13 - 09:50 pm
5
2
Thanks Riverman

Typo found and fixed.

Little Lamb
49085
Points
Little Lamb 12/30/13 - 10:23 pm
2
3
Vice

My guess is he was heavily into on-line poker for medium-high stakes.

Little Lamb
49085
Points
Little Lamb 12/30/13 - 10:21 pm
4
5
Retirement

Perhaps these constitutional officers (sheriff, coroner, tax commissioner, clerk of probate court, etc.) need to have a constitutional mandatory early retirement at age 55. That way they would not get big pension payouts and they would not get so entrapped by greed.

Riverman1
93728
Points
Riverman1 12/31/13 - 06:31 am
3
1
LL, I'm curious. Where did

LL, I'm curious. Where did the poker thing come from?

Truth Matters
8084
Points
Truth Matters 12/31/13 - 07:56 am
5
3
"...Mandatory retirement for

"...Mandatory retirement for constitutional officers @ 55 yrs."

Barring poor health, a 55-year old may live another 20-30 years. Where does a 55 year old without a pension find a job to keep paying the bills and saving for long-term care/retirement.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/31/13 - 08:17 am
3
2
I'll settle for 90 year olds

I'll settle for 90 year olds in office. Just get one's that will keep their nose clean.

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 12/31/13 - 08:34 am
0
0
ARC is a guvmit town. Greed & Corruption is the out growth.
Unpublished

ARC is a guvmit town. Greed & Corruption is the out growth.

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 12/31/13 - 08:35 am
0
0
He wanted his piece of the pie. Photo is proof of many pieces.
Unpublished

He wanted his piece of the pie. Photo is proof of many pieces.

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 12/31/13 - 08:36 am
0
0
Spend $250K for a $12k a year political job? Now you why?
Unpublished

Spend $250K for a $12k a year political job? Now you why?

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 12/31/13 - 08:37 am
0
0
Maybe Paine College will consider hiring him. And Mrs. Allen.
Unpublished

Maybe Paine College will consider hiring him. And Mrs. Allen.

Truth Matters
8084
Points
Truth Matters 12/31/13 - 08:40 am
1
4
Never mind.... I retract that

Never mind....
I retract that earlier question. Fred Russell is 61 and looks like he will have a new gig before we can kiss a New Year's baby.

Or spank it.

grinder48
2057
Points
grinder48 12/31/13 - 09:50 am
0
0
BBQ
Unpublished

Looks like Tuten might have been spending all his ill gotten gains at local BBQ joints.

aninsider
75
Points
aninsider 12/31/13 - 10:14 am
1
0
Retirement?

Coroners get retirement?b that's news to me and I was a deputy coroner for over 10 years. I must be pretty dense because I didn't get (or take) anything else either.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 12/31/13 - 10:34 am
0
3
I gave you a thumb down

I gave you a thumb down Jillian. Do you forgive me?

Sweet son
11649
Points
Sweet son 12/31/13 - 10:39 am
2
1
Did Tuten have a County vehicle in addition to the one he took?

Not taking up for him but maybe he felt he was using the vehicle for his "official" duties.

But, pocketing the GRU money for use of his autopsy suite was wrong: dead wrong! No pun intended! :(

internationallyunknown
5018
Points
internationallyunknown 12/31/13 - 11:03 am
0
3
Just a car???

The FBI isn't just investigating him over a stolen car.....

It's someting BIGGER....i.e. organs.

Did the FBI investigate the Deputy Coroner who stole the gift cards from 2008???

nocnoc
49169
Points
nocnoc 12/31/13 - 11:58 am
2
1
Been waiting days for the questions to asked.

Quoting
"A person with knowledge of the local coroner’s office went to the FBI in July to report suspicions that property and money was missing. "

So was this political based? (aka The Gang of 5 downtown)

Was this person a ARC or GRU employee or Elected Official or a Citizen?

Was it brought to Sheriff Roundtree's attention prior to the FED's, or was it a direct line to the Fed's office?

If it was a direct line to the Fed's what was the problem of handling it via RCSO, GBI or the Local DA?

These are fair questions.

nocnoc
49169
Points
nocnoc 12/31/13 - 11:59 am
1
1
Riverman - regarding the car

In my defense,
I did say enough to confuse a jury.

Sohesaid
4
Points
Sohesaid 12/31/13 - 12:07 pm
0
0
It's a shame that elected

It's a shame that elected officials have to stoop to such actions but u really have to wonder what really has been going on in that office over the last 5 years??

corgimom
38463
Points
corgimom 12/31/13 - 12:18 pm
1
4
If the FBI thought he was

If the FBI thought he was harvesting organs, they wouldn't have waited to arrest him, and they wouldn't be staking out that car.

Get a grip, people.

Some people watch too many movies and tv shows.

"Federal agents saw Thurston’s 2004 Nissan Altima at Tuten’s home on at least three occasions, found service records for work Tuten paid for on the vehicle at a Nissan dealership and discovered the tag on the car belonged to a trailer Tuten owned."

Does this sound like they are investigating human body parts?

internationallyunknown
5018
Points
internationallyunknown 01/02/14 - 10:04 am
0
0
Actually

I do not watch television...hmm...:)

If you are low enough to steal a dead persons car...AND drive it...you probably would do other low stuff for profit...what if he is working with a larger organ harvesting ring.

Kendrick Lamar...the young man in south GA whose organs were discovered missing after a second private autopsy...it could happen. It IS happening.

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