Fresno Coroner ... Stealing from the Dead?

January 23, 2009 6:19:18 PM PST
The Fresno County Coroner's Office has taken new security measures after the arrest of 31-year old Joseph Tiger. Tiger lives in Selma and has worked for 12 years investigating deaths for Fresno County. Investigators claim Tiger stole from a 63-year-old man who died last year.Tiger is charged with grand theft and embezzlement for committing the crime while he was suppose to be helping process bodies. Joseph Tiger gave an interview to the media discussing an investigation conducted by the Fresno County Coroner in 2005. Investigators claim Tiger was on duty in March 2008 when he came to a North East Fresno home. An arrest warrant states an elderly man named George Lobban died at the home. Lobban had no known family. As a result, Tiger and two assistants were responsible for logging the man's property and cleaning up the home. The warrant states Fresno County Coroner David Hadden noticed suspicious activity and told an investigator: "...Deputy Coroner Joseph Tiger removed an 'I Phone' from the pocket of the deceased. Hadden stated that Tiger did not list the I Phone on the property inventory sheet ... Dr. Hadden believed that Deputy Coroner Joseph Tiger may have stolen the I phone from the body of Mr. Lobban."

The warrant also stated a fellow employee noticed Tiger with Lobban's cell phone days after the man died. Tiger's mother-in-law Terry defended him, "All we know that he was charged and other than that we don't know anything. So, we're just waiting to find out what's going on." Reporter asked, "You heard the allegations, is this something he is capable of doing?" Terry said, "No, absolutely not."

Doctor Hadden declined to discuss the investigation, "It's devastated the office. It's devastated me. It's the worst thing that's happened in about 28 years.

Cindy Marberry did not want to be photographed. She lives next door to Lobban's former home and described the man as a hermit. Marberry said the 63-year-old died of natural causes. Tiger is well known at Selma city hall. He served on the city planning commission and ran for city council last year, but lost.

Tiger is scheduled to be in court in March. If convicted, the DA says he could face 3 years in prison.

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