When Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten was arrested last week by the FBI
for allegedly keeping a deceased man’s 2004 Nissan Altima and using it as his personal vehicle, Augustans shook their head in disgust.
Stealing from a dead person is the lowest of the lows.
And to risk your entire career for a 10-year-old vehicle seems beyond absurd.
That’s why many people are scratching their heads about the whole ordeal.
But what is worse is the dark shadow that Tuten’s actions casts on the entire coroner’s office.
It’s no secret that Tuten was a long-time friend and co-worker of the highly respected former coroner Leroy Sims who passed away in 2004.
Born in 1931, Sims served in both the Army and the Air Force only to return to the states to join the Augusta Police Department where he met Grover Tuten.
They enlisted in the police department together and became close friends.
Eventually, Tuten was an assistant coroner when he was needed and Sims was asked to help out as well.
After Sims’ retirement from the police department as a successful homicide detective and following the death of Coroner Woodward, Sims became the coroner of Richmond County in 1985.
He would run unopposed for the rest of his life, while Tuten continued to work alongside Sims for several years.
For those folks who never had the fortune of meeting Sims, he was a very loyal and sensitive individual.
He rarely found his job in viewing and pronouncing deaths easy.
In fact, according to the Georgia Coroners Association, Sims was affected by each and every one of the cases he encountered.
“He used his interests in coin collecting to reduce his stress from his work,” according to the Georgia Coroner Association. “Leroy (Sims) was also a wonderful organist. It was common for Leroy to come in from a case and sit down to play. He had found a way to ease his mind in the way that we all need in this business.”
The association now honors other coroners or deputy coroners with the Leroy Sims Distinguished Service Award.
“Leroy was a gentle giant, a man we all looked up to and admired,” the Georgia Coroners Association stated.
It is sad to see someone so close to Sims allegedly fall so hard. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, but when it comes to betraying the trust of the coroner’s office and the legacy of Sims, if the allegations against Tuten are true, he needs to go to prison.
If you don’t have respect for the dead, you don’t have respect for life. If nothing else, Tuten should have respected the legacy of his long-time colleague and friend, Sims. But he apparently didn’t.
Instead, he allegedly betrayed everything Sims stood for. And if the allegations against Tuten are true, he deserves to sit in prison and think about the gift of life.
Your future and your freedom are much more valuable than any material object, but especially a 2004 Nissan Altima.
It’s a shame.