Even after a full year of developments in the criminal investigation into former County Manager Wanda Greene, Buncombe County has still not reached the end of this tumultuous chapter in its history. Citizens did, however, witness many twists and turns in the case throughout 2018.
April 5 A grand jury handed up an indictment charging Greene and her son, former county employee Michael Greene, with racking up more than $200,000 in personal purchases using county purchase cards. The indictment says Wanda Greene turned her p-cards in to the county in 2011 out of concern that the records associated with those cards could be accessible under public records law. Federal prosecutors claim that she then began using photocopies of her subordinates’ p-cards to continue making improper purchases. Michael Greene had a copy of one of these credit cards until officers retrieved it in July 2017.
June 5 Wanda Greene was indicted again — this time on charges that she misappropriated $2.3 million of county money to purchase whole life insurance policies for herself, her son and eight other county employees. (An annuity was purchased for an additional employee.) The indictment says Greene inflated the projected cost of settlements for two civil rights lawsuits to surreptitiously secure funding for the life insurance policies. That night, the Board of Commissioners announced in a statement that the county would be filing a civil lawsuit against Michael and Wanda Greene to recoup money that had been allegedly misappropriated.
June 8 County Manager Mandy Stone, who succeeded Wanda Greene, told the board that she would retire effective July 1.
July 17 The Board of Commissioners approved a $2 million settlement with Guardian Life Insurance Co., the company Wanda Greene allegedly used to purchase the whole life insurance policies using county money.
July 27 Michael Greene pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, which carries a maximum prison term of five years and/or a maximum fine of $250,000. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining charges against Greene and will not require him to testify in any trial or sentencing involving his mother, Wanda Greene.
Aug. 7 Wanda Greene, Mandy Stone and former Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton were indicted on charges that they accepted kickbacks from a former county contractor, Joseph Wiseman Jr., in exchange for lavish vacations. The indictment alleges that the contractor paid for trips to Vienna, Budapest, Cartagena, Vancouver, Key West, Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, Maine, Phoenix, the Napa Valley, the Grand Canyon, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park.
Aug. 14 The Board of Commissioners voted during a special meeting to terminate all existing contracts with companies associated with Joseph Wiseman Jr., the contractor implicated in the kickback scheme. During the same meeting, the board announced that the county would be filing a civil lawsuit against Greene, Stone, Creighton, Wiseman and companies affiliated with Wiseman to recoup money the county claims was misappropriated.
Oct. 30 Jon Creighton pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and at most three years of supervised release. As part of the plea agreement, Creighton agreed to provide information and relevant documentation to prosecutors and testify in any future trial, hearing or grand jury proceeding, including any involving his co-defendants.
Nov. 20 The Board of Commissioners approved a $40,000 settlement with Michael Greene as payment for relief sought in the county’s civil lawsuit against him and his mother Wanda Greene. The settlement keeps open the possibility of future legal action against Michael Greene if other misdeeds are discovered.