Inventory check exposes theft

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Established procedures tripped up a deputy coroner charged with stealing a dead woman's gift cards, Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten said Thursday.

Charlena Graham, a former deputy coroner, was fired by Coroner Grover Tuten after being arrested on theft charges.  Special
Special
Charlena Graham, a former deputy coroner, was fired by Coroner Grover Tuten after being arrested on theft charges.

"It's just plain stupid," Mr. Tuten said of the suspected in-house theft.

At a morning news conference, Mr. Tuten spelled out the checks and balances in place whenever there's a call about a dead person.

Every time 911 receives such a call, three agencies respond -- the coroner's office, the sheriff's department and the county's ambulance service.

By law, his officer is responsible for the body and all of the person's property, Mr. Tuten said. The coroner or his assistant takes a written inventory of all of the belongings, and the sheriff's deputy takes his own written inventory. In addition, the person who transports the body takes an inventory of all possessions, Mr. Tuten said. Any theft would be obvious by checking the inventories, he said.

Charlena Graham, 43, is the former deputy coroner accused of theft. Allegedly, she stole several gift cards after responding to a New Year's Eve call for a woman who committed suicide.

Mr. Tuten said the woman's family members called the sheriff's department after realizing gift cards they had given to her for Christmas were not in the possessions returned to them. The cards were listed on the coroner's inventory, he said.

Sheriff's investigators told The Augusta Chronicle on Wednesday that evidence against Ms. Graham includes videotapes of her using the gift cards at local stores.

"(The evidence) was enough that when they put the handcuffs on her yesterday, I fired her," Mr. Tuten said.

Ms. Graham, who worked in law enforcement for at least a decade before joining the coroner's staff four years ago, had no prior complaints about her conduct, Mr. Tuten said.

He believes the Dec. 31 incident was an aberration. In his 30 years with the coroner's office, this was the first theft charge against a member of the staff, Mr. Tuten said.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (93) Add comment
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Brad Owens
4727
Points
Brad Owens 01/25/08 - 04:15 am
0
0
Grover is the man! I feel

Grover is the man! I feel sorry for the family. They had to deal with a tragedy and then exploitation by this person. How can anyone be so dumb as to steal items listed on an inventory that she had to know would be returned to the family? 10 years in law enforcemnt? Sad.

BakersfieldCityLimits
1
Points
BakersfieldCityLimits 01/25/08 - 04:32 am
0
0
Shame, shame, on you Ms.

Shame, shame, on you Ms. Gramhm. To pry your ill gotten gains from the hands of a dead person is pure evil. What are the limits of your depravity?

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 01/25/08 - 05:02 am
0
0
An aberration? A crime of

An aberration? A crime of opportunity for a 43 year old employee with this much experience? Maybe, but I'd feel mighty gullible if I believed a story like that. I guess I'm a cynic.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 01/25/08 - 07:05 am
0
0
It does not surprise me the

It does not surprise me the depths people have sunk. Now that is the real shame of it all.

PAW
0
Points
PAW 01/25/08 - 07:08 am
0
0
Here we go!! Another Idiot

Here we go!! Another Idiot making black people look bad.....Thank you Stupid!!!!!!!!!

PAW
0
Points
PAW 01/25/08 - 07:13 am
0
0
Here we go again!!!!!!

Here we go again!!!!!! Another person making black people look bad.....Thank you......You Stupid Idiot

LadyCisback
4
Points
LadyCisback 01/25/08 - 07:21 am
0
0
What a shame!!..

What a shame!!..

lyonsrocko
0
Points
lyonsrocko 01/25/08 - 07:47 am
0
0
when a person deside to take

when a person deside to take something that doesnt belong to them it has nothing to do with being black stupid idiot

butterflygina
159
Points
butterflygina 01/25/08 - 08:06 am
0
0
not again today

not again today

7even
12
Points
7even 01/25/08 - 08:10 am
0
0
This is disgusting. Needs to

This is disgusting. Needs to be jail-bound for the max allowed time.

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 01/25/08 - 08:12 am
0
0
Paw, that wasn't nice ... &

Paw, that wasn't nice ... & you said it twice.

CCMom
0
Points
CCMom 01/25/08 - 08:13 am
0
0
hope she rots in jail

hope she rots in jail

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 01/25/08 - 08:17 am
0
0
She looks like an orangutan

She looks like an orangutan in the picture. What was she thinking-Oh she wasn't. That is just a terrible picture I say re-do.

ImThatGuy
0
Points
ImThatGuy 01/25/08 - 08:49 am
0
0
Here we are bashing this

Here we are bashing this woman who stole from a dead woman, (not condoning what she's done) but we sit and let politicians steal from you and I while we are a live; I don’t see anyone trying to bash these crooks!

Dark Lord
2
Points
Dark Lord 01/25/08 - 08:59 am
0
0
PAW, why does it makes only

PAW, why does it makes only black people look bad instead of making women, or the department look bad? I think you have other issues besides the fact that she broke the law. Wrong is Wrong regardless of race, sex, color, or national origin. Would you have made that comment if she was asian or white? I doubt it.

tlynncruz
0
Points
tlynncruz 01/25/08 - 09:19 am
0
0
I agree Clayton357

I agree Clayton357

luv2scrapbk
0
Points
luv2scrapbk 01/25/08 - 09:20 am
0
0
This has nothing to do with

This has nothing to do with the fact she is black. It Ms. Grahman any other race would it matter? ABSOUTLEY! She committed a crime now she should do the time for her actions.

mastersmoney
0
Points
mastersmoney 01/25/08 - 09:27 am
0
0
Ok, 3 days in a row for this

Ok, 3 days in a row for this article. Lets report on some new stuff there Chronicle. Om starting to feel like Im reading James Brown articles again!!!

johnsmith
9
Points
johnsmith 01/25/08 - 09:36 am
0
0
PAW, I don't think she makes

PAW, I don't think she makes black people look bad. I think she makes stupid, immoral, crooked people look bad. Oh, wait...they already did :)

DeborahElliott2
4
Points
DeborahElliott2 01/25/08 - 09:36 am
0
0
I agree with everyone here,

I agree with everyone here, this lady is low life scum!!!

CKB
0
Points
CKB 01/25/08 - 09:43 am
0
0
I applaude Mr. Tuten and

I applaude Mr. Tuten and Sheriff Strength for their quick response and Mr. Tuten's action of terminating this woman. Many, many people appreciate how this has been handled. It is sad this family has been through so much and my prayers are with them. It was very obvious that this was something very upsetting to Mr. Tuten and shows his committment to his profession. Wish more people were like this. Thank you both for a job well done. Augusta is blessed to have you both in the positions you hold.

SunDown
2
Points
SunDown 01/25/08 - 10:05 am
0
0
PAW... she belongs to a big

PAW... she belongs to a big club.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 01/25/08 - 10:05 am
0
0
I don't know. I wonder how

I don't know. I wonder how many people would think "The lady is gone and nobody will notice a few gift cards missing?" Temptation! Nobody is immune. I'd like to think that few people would think it but I'm bizarre not crazy. The lady has apparently paid her dues and worked her way to the position. Sadly all frittered away by a moments stupidity. I hope she was in dire straights and not just a plain sorry piece of crap.

read this
1
Points
read this 01/25/08 - 10:40 am
0
0
It is inate in some to take

It is inate in some to take advantage of situations that they can rationalize. Nobody will know, it isn't much, they didn't catch me last time, I'll pay it back, it was a mistake, everyone does it, they have too much, etc. In middle Eastern countries, I understand nobody locks their doors, inventory is left without supervision, and only a few people have missing hands.

adrian22
1
Points
adrian22 01/25/08 - 10:45 am
0
0
I agree with Clayton 357. She

I agree with Clayton 357. She doesn't make black people look bad- she made herself look bad. She doesn't represent me or account for my actions. What she did was wrong and she should have been fired. End of story.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 01/25/08 - 10:45 am
0
0
ROFLMAO, SayWhat, SayWhat! I

ROFLMAO, SayWhat, SayWhat! I like your sense of humor.

sanders20
0
Points
sanders20 01/25/08 - 10:53 am
0
0
i started to blame the

i started to blame the stupidity of the people here on the water that the Olin plant has polluted. just can't come up w/ a better reason for the IQ levels here....

september 5th
1
Points
september 5th 01/25/08 - 10:58 am
0
0
in my opinion mr tuten needs

in my opinion mr tuten needs to be fired also! he is talking too much to the media in an attempt to save his own job! he is this lady's supervisor and apparently his leadership is poor if he can work everyday with a person so "stupid" to use his term! wonder what type of performance evaluations this lady has received in the past!

dani
12
Points
dani 01/25/08 - 11:25 am
0
0
INTHATGUY..So it's okay to

INTHATGUY..So it's okay to steal, look at what others are doing? Quite a mindset there.

luckyladydays
0
Points
luckyladydays 01/25/08 - 11:26 am
0
0
Not fair to judge Mr Tuten,

Not fair to judge Mr Tuten, January 25th. How was he to know that a woman with ten years in law enforcement would steal, and from a dead person to top it off... You don't know how a person really is until they show their true colors. It was good that he immediately fired her. As far as the media thing, he is trying to maintain the integrity of the department. He can't help that she was a bad seed, but at least she is gone now.

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