News 12 at 6 o'clock/ Friday, Dec. 20th, 2013
RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- Richmond County Coroner, Grover Tuten, was granted $3,000 bond in court Friday morning. As of Friday afternoon, Tuten is no longer in the system, meaning he has been released.
Tuten is accused of theft by taking of a motor vehicle. The DA said that he stole Walter Thurston's 2004 Nissan Altima after Thurston died in April 2011.
With no known relatives, the car was taken to the coroners office, but the District Attorney Ashley Wright says it didn't stay there.
"Since that time the Nissan Altima has been driven by Mr.Tuten for a weekend away, for a personal weekend away," said Wright.
She also says Tuten had work done on the car paid for by a personal check and he changed the tags.
"There has been a new tag placed on the car. The tag is registered to a trailer that is owned by Mr. Tuten." said the District Attorney.
As for what was supposed to happen to the car, Wright says that part of the law is tricky, but ultimately it should still be waiting for an heir to claim it.
"I believe that there should be someone appointed by the probate court to hold on to that property and if at the termination of a four year term where no heirs have been found actually the property would [go] to the school board," explained Wright.
This is the only charge being brought against Tuten by the state right now, but Wright said the FBI is still investigating.
She said, "in July of 2013 the FBI had been alerted to some information that there may be some improprieties with the property of descendents."
Bond was set at $3,000 because that's what the judge estimated the Nissan would be worth. Tuten is not allowed access to the Coroner's Office, any county owned or operated IT accounts and must surrender any county or state property.