Tuten, 70, was originally charged with a single count of theft on Dec. 20 and released on a $3,000 bond. On Tuesday, the Richmond County grand jury indicted Tuten on eight counts of theft and five counts of violation of oath of a public office.
According to the indictment, Tuten is accused of stealing from deceased people by taking vehicles, cash and other property, and by keeping money for burial services and the sale of property that should have gone into county coffers.
The offenses allegedly took place from January 2005 through May 21.
The indictment lists the May 2012 alleged theft of a 2004 Nissan Altima that had belonged to Walter Edward Thurston, who died April 11, 2012.
The new allegations of theft listed in the indictment also accuse Tuten of:
• The March 23, 2006, misappropriation of a 1992 Chevrolet Lumina that belonged to Renard Williams;
• The Feb. 26, 2010, misappropriation of cash that belonged to Myrna Todd.
• The Sept. 28, 2010, misappropriation of cash that belonged to Billy Joe Fletcher;
• The Feb. 17, 2011, misappropriation of money that belonged to Elliott Hankinson Jr.;
• The Aug. 26, 2011, misappropriation of a 1998 Ford F 150 pickup that belonged to Richard Krajacic;
• The Nov. 29, 2012, misappropriation of money from Shane R. Hobbs’ estate;
• The April 5, 2013, misappropriation of cash that belonged to Bill Luckie.
The violation of oath of office charges accuse Tuten of:
• Accepting and keeping payment for the burial of Hobbs;
• Selling property that belonged to Krajacic and keeping the proceeds;
• Selling property that belonged to Fletcher and keeping the proceeds;
• Taking money to bury Todd and Hankinson and keeping the proceeds;
• Selling property that belonged to Renard Williams and keeping the money.
According to the indictment, the oath that Tuten is accused of violating is: “he would in no case knowingly use or exercise his office illegally, corruptly or unjustly and that he would not under any pretense, take, accept or enjoy any fee or reward pertaining to his office.”
The prosecutor for the case is FBI Special Agent Charles McKee.
It is unknown if Tuten will also face federal charges.
According to Richmond County Superior Court records, Tuten made an application to dispose of Thurston’s car, stating it had been unclaimed for more than a year. Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet signed the order on July 9, 2012.
Tuten made an application to dispose of Krajecic’ pickup truck, stating it had been unclaimed for more than two years. Judge Daniel J. Craig signed the order Feb. 24, 2011.
Tuten made another application to dispose of a 1997 Mercedes S320 Sedan on Feb. 13. The case was assigned to Judge J. Wade Padgett. There was no order granting the request in that file. However, in a second application for the disposal of “miscellaneous items” unclaimed for more than 180 days, an order granting the motion for the Mercedes was signed by Overstreet on Feb. 18.