Tuten, 70, has been banned from the coroner’s office where he worked for nearly 36 years when he was arrested on a theft charge Dec. 20. He had been on paid leave and has pleaded not guilty to eight counts of theft and five counts of violation of oath of office.
Richmond County Probate Judge Harry B. James III appointed chief deputy coroner Mark Bowen to complete the remainder of Tuten’s current four-year term that began in 2012.
Bowen will be sworn into office Saturday at 10 a.m. in suite 1000 at the Augusta Judicial Center and John H. Ruffin Jr. Courthouse.
Tuten submitted a voluntary suspension to the governor’s office on Feb. 7. That left the Richmond County’s coronor position empty because no one could be appointed to the job unless Tuten resigned. The coroner’s salary is $65,000 a year.
According to the indictment returned in January, Tuten is accused of stealing cash, vehicles and other property from deceased people, and keeping money for burial services and the sale of property that should have gone into the county’s coffers for several years.
Specifically the indictment alleges the following acts:
-- 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;
-- 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;
-- And selling property that belonged to Renard Williams and keeping the money.