The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners has accepted a $189,000 settlement from former Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton, who pled guilty in October for his part in a kickback scheme involving himself and two other former managers.
This brings the total amount the county has recouped through civil actions to more than $3 million.
“This would, as best I can determine, make the county whole for the matters that we could recover in a lawsuit against Mr. Creighton,” Ron Payne, the outside attorney handling the county’s civil lawsuits, told commissioners during the board’s regular meeting on Jan. 15.
Board Chair Brownie Newman says this settlement reimburses the county for personal trips, allegedly paid for by contractor Joseph Wiseman Jr., that were financed by taxpayers under the guise of county business, as well as illegitimate bonuses and unused annual leave that Creighton sold back to the county in lieu of using vacation time for personal trips.
Although he is unnamed in an August indictment, the county has identified Wiseman as the contractor that allegedly provided lavish vacations in exchange for favorable consideration on county contracts to Creighton and former county managers Mandy Stone and Wanda Greene.
In a court filing in late December, Wiseman’s attorney, Christopher Lewis, wrote that Wiseman and Environmental Infrastructure Consulting deny the allegations against Wiseman in the August indictment and the county’s civil lawsuit.
The settlement results in a limited release for Creighton, meaning the county remains free to pursue further litigation against him if other misdeeds are discovered.
Payne said the county could expect to receive the money from Creighton by the end of the month. Commissioners are still waiting to receive a $750,000 settlement from Greene, which they approved in December. “[Greene] is prohibited from entering into a financial transaction of $10,000 or more unless approved by her probation officer,” Payne said. “Her attorney has told me that he has initiated that process, and hopefully we’re going to get an answer on that perhaps as early as this week.”
On the morning after commissioners accepted Creighton’s settlement, Greene appeared in the federal courthouse at 100 Otis St. to plead guilty to federal charges after reaching an agreement with prosecutors.
Flanked by her attorneys, Noell Tin and Thomas Amburgey, Greene entered a guilty plea to two counts of federal program fraud, one count of receiving bribes and kickbacks and one count of making and subscribing a false tax return. Magistrate Judge Carleton Metcalf accepted Greene’s plea agreement but denied a request to modify the conditions of Greene’s pre-sentencing release to allow her to talk to Irene Wolfe and Peggy Hughes, both of whom are Greene’s sisters and work for Buncombe County. Metcalf said it would not be appropriate to allow her to communicate with her sisters at this time.
He also added another condition to her release stipulating that Greene may not serve in a fiduciary role or have access funds belonging to another entity.