Deputy coroner arrested

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Investigators arrested Richmond County Deputy Coroner Charlena Graham on Wednesday afternoon on charges that she stole gift cards from the body of a 29-year-old woman who committed suicide on New Year's Eve.

Charlena Graham is accused of taking gift cards worth about $400.  Special
Special
Charlena Graham is accused of taking gift cards worth about $400.

Ms. Graham, 43, who had worked for the Richmond County Coroner's Office for about four years, was arrested at her place of work about 3:45 p.m., according to Sheriff Ronnie Strength. She has been charged with one felony count of theft by taking and fired from the coroner's office, officials said.

"I was aware of the investigation," Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten said. "I knew it was going on, and I cooperated with it and we cleaned our house."

Police went to the Baymont Inn and Suites at 2905 Riverwest Drive on Dec. 31 in response to reports of gunshots, a Richmond County sheriff's report states. Deputies forced their way into the motel room to find a woman dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

A Glock handgun was in the woman's hand, and a handwritten note lay nearby, the report states.

Shortly after, all personal items from the victim were turned over to Ms. Graham, including five gift cards for Macy's, Target, Victoria's Secret and a local steak house, according to Sheriff Strength.

"Later it came to our attention from family members that some gift cards were possibly missing ..." Sheriff Strength said.

Sheriff's Lt. Jack Francisco said the total value of the cards was about $400.

"I'm surprised, but not shocked," he said of the incident.

Investigators have recovered evidence, including tapes of Ms. Graham using the gift cards at local stores, the sheriff said.

Sheriff Strength said the total amount for the cards does not factor into Ms. Graham's charge, because any theft by a government employee on the job is considered a felony.

Additional charges against Ms. Graham are pending, the sheriff said.

Ms. Graham formerly worked for the Augusta Police Department and became a Richmond County sheriff's deputy when the city and county police departments consolidated in 1996. She later was promoted to investigator.

Staff Writer Timothy Cox contributed to this article.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (154) Add comment
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THOMSON
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THOMSON 01/24/08 - 03:36 am
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she needs to be hung!

she needs to be hung!

spotted_assassin
63
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spotted_assassin 01/24/08 - 03:56 am
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Awww, shut the _______

Awww, shut the _______ up!
She need to be treated like any other thief case. No more, no less.
Arrest her, charge her, schedule a court date...etc.
All this, "she need to be hanged, shot, thrown away ...etc." crap is going overboard! HELL YES what she did was really, really, morally wrong, and she'll have to take that up with the creator.
I know everyone will be showing their TRUE COLORS with their responses on this one! It wouldn't be a Chronicle Comment section if ya'll didn't!

iletuknow
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iletuknow 01/24/08 - 04:14 am
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An incredible evil woman that

An incredible evil woman that even raises the bar on Augusta's parasite stories. Going through the pockets of the dead,unbelievable,and a member of the police force.

Dawg in Qatar
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Dawg in Qatar 01/24/08 - 04:40 am
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How many more may have been

How many more may have been robbed is unknown but I feel sure this women was not her first victim. At least the family had the backbone to question everything during a horrible time.

iletuknow
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iletuknow 01/24/08 - 04:48 am
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All these stories suggest a

All these stories suggest a complete evaluation of the police department is needed and an investigation of every employee's credentials should be done.Their appears to be absolutely no oversight on the operations there for this sort of thing to happen.

WhiskyDick
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WhiskyDick 01/24/08 - 05:22 am
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iletuknow, that has got to be

iletuknow, that has got to be about the dumbest comment I've read here in a long time. That explains why you're not in charge.

dani
12
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dani 01/24/08 - 05:42 am
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All these stories? Is there

All these stories? Is there more than one? What does the greed of one woman have to do with the credibility of the police force? I reread the article and I see nothing about going through any pockets.

RobbyLogan
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RobbyLogan 01/24/08 - 06:31 am
0
0
I guess there is an opening

I guess there is an opening for a deputy coroner at the Richmond County's Coroners Office. Sorry, not funny, but just had to say it. Seriously, she is sicko!

ANGEL
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ANGEL 01/24/08 - 06:45 am
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WHAT IS WRONG WITH SOME

WHAT IS WRONG WITH SOME PEOPLE AROUND HERE!!!!!! She needs to be placed with all the crimials in PRISON for a long long time. People today have NO RESPECT for anyone much less a dead person and it is a crying shame how some people think today. She needs to be STRIPPED for everything and never be able to work or be around people of the community anymore.

Dawg in Qatar
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Dawg in Qatar 01/24/08 - 07:09 am
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If she has been an employee

If she has been an employee sense the Augusta PD daze, and then a RCSD deputy, a background check would only tell them what they already knew.
Dani-Weather she went through the victims pockets or her purse she stole the the gift cards and knew she was wrong.

JimCox
7
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JimCox 01/24/08 - 07:09 am
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I wonder what the total value

I wonder what the total value of the cards was, it would be poetic justice if they had all been expended.

pofwe
5
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pofwe 01/24/08 - 07:51 am
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This ain't the 1st time she

This ain't the 1st time she stole from the public. Just the first time she got caught. This kind of crap is rampant with people in a position of trust, but we can never know. And this crooked dumb-[filtered word] was once an investigator, can you imagine the injustice she's done to people & criminal cases over the years? Slap her once & she'll rat others out so quick you'll have to slap her twice to get her to shut-up.

WhoCares
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WhoCares 01/24/08 - 07:52 am
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She shows no respect for the

She shows no respect for the dead. The word thief or criminal does not come to mind. This is something much worse. An officer of the law who is supposed serve and protect. the criminal activity probably goes deeper but this is what she got caught on. vampire.

dani
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dani 01/24/08 - 07:59 am
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Is that like the

Is that like the body-snatchers?

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 01/24/08 - 08:03 am
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Ya'll sure are harsh. I

Ya'll sure are harsh. I wonder who made her take those cards and use them. I'm sure it wasn't her fault. She appears to be a victim.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7385
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 01/24/08 - 08:17 am
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Yes, a victim of her own

Yes, a victim of her own greed!

imconcerned
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imconcerned 01/24/08 - 08:18 am
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Surely you all don't think

Surely you all don't think she is the only one who has ever done this. Do you think all the drug money makes it to the evidence room? Or all the jewelry and gold makes it there? hummm, I just wonder.

dixiechick007
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dixiechick007 01/24/08 - 08:27 am
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pt, you have got to be

pt, you have got to be kidding me. This woman held an important position where you treat the deceased and family members with compassion and respect. This piece of scum is a bottom dweller. She feeds off of other peoples misfortune. If anyone is the victim, it is the deceased.

1941
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1941 01/24/08 - 08:42 am
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To those that seem to have

To those that seem to have sympthy for the theif, what would you be saying if it was you;r kin?

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 01/24/08 - 08:45 am
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Yet another blow to the city

Yet another blow to the city of Augusta, boy can they pick them.....she has got to be just plain stupid.....why risk your job over some $400.00 gift cards? I do agree that this probably is not the first time something like this has happened. Shame....

cparker
68
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cparker 01/24/08 - 08:47 am
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PT, what do you mean when you

PT, what do you mean when you say she looks like a victim? I appreciate good sarcasm, but we all know the kind of person you are and how I feel about some things you try to say covertly...What do you mean she looks like a victim? What's with all this respect for the dead stuff...The idiot killed herself!

common-sense-justice
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common-sense-justice 01/24/08 - 08:49 am
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A "Victim" ????? PT, you

A "Victim" ????? PT, you amaze me. She does not appear to be beaten, or to have a taser used on her to make her steal from the dead. She is just skum and deserves to be someone's lesbo girlfriend in prison.

Georgiais1
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Georgiais1 01/24/08 - 08:52 am
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She looks guilty.

She looks guilty.

reader123
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reader123 01/24/08 - 08:59 am
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How DARE you call the victim

How DARE you call the victim here an idiot. You have no idea what circumstances caused this joy of a person to take her own life, nor do you probably care. The point here is that a trusted offical stole from her, and cudos to Sheriff Strength for taking immediate action before she was allowed to do this to another family.

taha
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taha 01/24/08 - 09:02 am
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can no one understand true

can no one understand true sarcasm any more? I'm sure what PT was saying (in a lovely sarcastic way) is that this 'theif' will surely TRY to turn this entire situation around and attempt to make herself LOOK LIKE a victim!! Come on people...everbody has to appreciate a good smart A%* comment!!

426Hemi
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426Hemi 01/24/08 - 09:06 am
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iletuknow comment, "All these

iletuknow comment, "All these stories suggest a complete evaluation of the police department." Seems as though the "corrupt police department" didn't live up to your alleged reputation. They were the ones who turned the cards over to this deputy coroner. Rethink your comment, because not everyone is crooked. I would assume the police take documented inventory of items at the scene; on or around the deceased(?) She got caught after family questioned the whereabouts of the cards, and, again assuming, the police had that inventory; and backed it up with store videos.

BarstoolDreamer
19
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BarstoolDreamer 01/24/08 - 09:07 am
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I can't believe some people

I can't believe some people misread the sarcasm in PT's comments. To spell it out....she was saying that in todays society that there will be people that say the coroner has to be a victim, maybe her childhood, or she grew up in a time when one team would actually loose a game instead everyone being a winner. In actuallity she has nobody to blame. She is responsable for her own actions...... sarcasm...see how it works.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 01/24/08 - 09:10 am
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BarstoolDreamer, a very

BarstoolDreamer, a very succinct and concise comment.

cparker
68
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cparker 01/24/08 - 09:14 am
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Why is everyone trying to

Why is everyone trying to explain what PT meant? She has a pretty low opinion of people of choice and she should explain this herself. She knows just why I'm asking the question because she hides her bigotry quite well through sarcasm.

neversurprised
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neversurprised 01/24/08 - 09:14 am
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Perfect explanation

Perfect explanation justathought (I can't believe how the reader messed the message up)

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