Federal indictment details charges against former County Manager Wanda Greene, son

CHARGE CARDS: A federal indictment released on April 5 alleges that former county manager Wanda Greene and her son Michael Greene made approximately $200,000 worth of improper purchases using government-issued procurement cards. Photo by Hayley Benton

A federal indictment released on April 5 paints Wanda Greene as a person who loved to shop — especially when Buncombe County was picking up the tab. Between 2007 and Aug. 12, 2017, the former county manager and her son Michael Greene (who was also employed by the county as an information systems security officer) racked up over $200,000 in improper personal purchases on county purchase cards, the indictment charges.

The purchases outlined in the indictment seem typical of the items that fill middle-class Americans’ shopping carts at stores like Target and Sam’s Club. Some of Greene’s alleged indulgences at taxpayer expense included OxiClean, fleece capri pants, wine, car tires, cell phones, a heated lotion dispenser and Walmart lingerie. Examples of Michael Greene’s personal purchases include a Nintendo Switch gaming system, a Fitbit, an Oral-B electric toothbrush, DVDs and an oriental rug mouse pad.

The indictment provides the clearest look yet at the charges faced by Wanda Greene since Mountain Xpress first broke the story of the federal investigation into her actions as county manager on Aug. 16 (avl.mx/411). Greene retired from her position on June 30, 2017; Michael Greene, who served as an information systems security officer for the county, resigned in August.

Charges filed against Wanda and Michael Greene include “conspiracy to embezzle, steal, obtain by fraud or misapply Buncombe County funds and wire fraud offenses.” Greene is also charged with embezzling public funds and aiding and abetting such embezzlement.

Wanda Greene allegedly used her P-card to purchase thousands of dollars worth of items from Target, T.J. Maxx, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and other stores. The indictment says she also used her P-card to purchase $21,760 worth of gift cards between Dec. 6, 2007 and Jan. 30, 2011.

As county manager, Greene had the authority to review and approve her own P-card purchases. Her son, the indictment says, was also allowed to review and approve his own P-card purchases, which was unusual for an employee at his level.

According to the indictment, the county’s internal auditor conducted an audit in January 2009 and determined that Michael Greene was making inappropriate purchases on a county credit card. The auditor sent a report to the county’s finance director and the county manager, Wanda Greene, for official action. Michael Greene was not terminated or suspended, but the county did cancel his credit card and ordered him to pay back $1,579.21. Wanda Greene stopped using county issued credit cards in February 2011 and returned the cards to the finance department.

“She informed a county employee that she was doing so because the records of her use of those cards could be subject to disclosure under the North Carolina Public Records Act,” the indictment says.

After turning in her P-card, the indictment says Greene turned to subordinates with access to county credit cards, requiring them to provide her with photocopies of the front and back of the cards. The indictment says Greene’s son also had a photocopy of an employee credit card until it was recovered by law enforcement agents on July 24, 2017.

According the the indictment, Greene also directed at least two of her subordinates to go to stores in Buncombe County and purchase gift cards using their P-cards. The employees would then give them to Greene, according to the indictment. Greene’s subordinates allegedly bought $75,400 worth of gift cards between May 7, 2010 and April 26, 2017.

Wanda and Michael Greene are scheduled to make their first appearance at the Federal Courthouse at 100 Otis St. in Asheville on Friday, April 13.

The charges carry the potential for fines and jail time, including maximum prison terms of five years and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge; a maximum prison term of 10 years per count and a $250,000 fine for the program fraud charges; and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison per count and a $250,000 fine per count for the wire fraud charges. Wanda Greene and Michael Greene face one count for the conspiracy charge and 50 counts for the wire fraud charges. Wanda Greene faces an additional five counts for the program fraud charges.

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About David Floyd
David Floyd is the Buncombe County reporter for the Mountain Xpress. He previously worked as a general-assignment reporter for the Johnson City Press. Email him at dfloyd@mountainx.com.

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21 thoughts on “Federal indictment details charges against former County Manager Wanda Greene, son

  1. Richard B.

    So who was (and is) watching the store? Eight years after the internal auditor found illegal use of the County issued cards by Ms. Green and son, they were still at it! The answer lies in that cocoon so often and so well spun around a Democrat official who has gone corrupt. The store is being watched, it’s just that the glasses are lens that bypass the behavior and seemingly appear to be incapable that one of their own can do bad. Eight years!!! AFTER the crime was uncovered!

    Taking a more kind perspective, it may be that the voters are electing some candidates that have little or no experience looking at a balance sheet or ledger, and no business or financial experience. Managing Buncombe County is about more that advocating for dreamy greenways and bike paths, or ranting about more diversity training, none of which is by itself negative, it is about MANAGING the resources of the County, first and foremost being the monies collected from tax paying citizens.

    Hopefully, qualified candidates with sound business experience will put their candidacy forward in the future. We need it.

    • Lulz

      Not only still at it but she got raises. Unreal the criminality of the county government.

    • Michael Arrowood

      All fair comments, and I agree, except for the finger-pointing at Democrats. Isn’t the current commission 4 Democrats and 3 Republicans? Republicans have been helping oversee this mess since 2012 at least. I think it’s a county government problem, not a partisan problem. It seems to be a structural problem of control mechanisms, and commissionerss putting too much faith in the honesty of the manager, who should be under especially tight scrutiny because of her broad authority. It seemed to be just the opposite from 2007 to 2017, when the acts under indictment took place. Good ol’ boy (and now good ol’ girl) network that Wanda Green took advantage of. Based on the indictments, I don’t think it’s a matter of reading a budget or a spreadsheet – it’s the ability to hide inappropriate purchases and actions because nobody’s checking. Partisanship in this case won’t produce anything but abuses under a different label… changing the controls and instituting transparency will make a real difference. That’s my opinion.

      • Richard B.

        Fair enough. Well thought out response.
        My point concerning being able to read financials, along with some basic business and organizational experience, derives from the fact there was apparently not a scintilla of oversight in place for the most basic of expenditures that responsible organizations of all types are tasked with overseeing. That being personal and travel expenditures, even the County Manager’s, even the Commissioners. For at least 10 years or more, these activities were not subject to audit. That is just unbelievable. Not sure if one party is more to blame than another, as you adroitly point out.
        I was unable to go back to look at the party composition of the Board during the years in question. So, admittedly, I have shown my bias that Democrats in office tend to be less attentive to the financial operations and oversight necessary to protect the tax paying citizens’ monies, and to assure these monies are spent in the best interest of the County.

        • Lulz

          As long as politicians consider citizens merely people to be fleeced at will, there’s no incentive to control spending or the bureaucracy.

        • Lulz

          Again, no one questions the politicians who run for election or re-election as long as they don’t claim to be republicans and tow the leftist mantra. Brownie Newman became a millionaire while in office. His conflicts of interests and lack of any scrutiny by the media, the government, or the law is baffling. But then again he’s well protected by the establishment around here.

          • luther blissett

            FBI tip line’s still open.

            Lots of people have gotten six-figure richer in the Brownie Newman years if they happen to own property in Asheville.

        • Michael Arrowood

          Well stated! I am a county government employee (Henderson County) and I was also shocked by the lax oversight that seemed to prevail in Buncombe County during the years in question, and possibly beyond. It’s hard for me to fathom that there aren’t multiple levels of verification when county officials spend taxpayer money. That just flies in the face of basic transparency and accounting principles. Why did no one say “wait a minute!” when Wanda Greene charged lingerie on her county pCard? Or when her son was required to pay back $1,600 in stolen money, but suffered no disciplinary action. I’m as baffled as anybody else – honestly, I would have expected a larger county to have stricter and more professional oversight than smaller counties like ours. But it seems that the oversight was completely absent. Since the county commissioners have complete authority over how county business is done – the buck stops with them. Wanda Greene could go to prison – but she could not have operated without county commissioner negligence.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      ever hear of David Gantt the past Chairman, now nowhere to be found ? no comment from him, didya notice ? roflmao!

      hoping by the hour for more indictments!

  2. don

    This wasn’t really a democratic or republican produced problem. No, this was/is a classic case of the elites of both parties being led around by the nose because no one was willing to rock the boat. And why? ….because the boat ride was going so wonderfully cushy for all involved….. at the taxpayer’s expense…. sigh. Ellen Frost and her fascination with the Tryon International Equestrian Center and the/her equestrian lifestyle being one of the more glaring examples of this travesty.

    • Lulz

      Wrong. Democrats hold the reigns around here. All they need to do is label themselves the latest in thing and they’re elected. Or think it’s all that it takes even though they have no qualifications and their only job has been in government. You have one running in Pressly’s district that has been nothing but a non-profit crony all her life and yet is concerned about the effects of taxes on the elderly. Logic deduces that she would figure out her tax payer subsidized life and many like her are a huge part of the swindle machine that is Buncombe County. It’s way past time for leftist to start being held up to the same standards as they demand of conservatives. But they’ve been given free passes and therefore are the elitist. Merely the nepotism alone, the silence about Green’s worthless son being given a made up job and 6 figures while everyone looks the other way is sickening,. Especially from the elected cronies. It’s also way past time to stop the lies about this managerial type government around here and the powerlessness the elected board has. Jackson just got the boot from the city. The county can do the same yet they kept Green on for years after her spending sprees started.

      • Lulz

        LOL what does Trump have to do with a reckless out of control bureaucrat and corrupt Democrats? Oh that’s right, we have to blame others to hide the illegalities of leftist party politics. Better blame Russia too lulz.

        • Lulz

          LOL puts down Trump, ignores the massive failure of local democrats in regards to Green, the incurring debt the city is getting into, major hunger and poverty issues due to low wages and high rents, an area that sold out to tourism, has destroyed mountains and forests for development, gentrifies all but the wealthy out of it, expects home owners to subsidize the rich, etc and puts the blame on conservatives. Even though government has been controlled by left wing buffoons for close to 20 years now. And worst of all is people like Green got raises on top of 300K incomes to do nothing but steal. From the people.

      • Richard B.

        There have been some well thought out responses and honest opinions in the comments above, but the last few are getting a bit nasty guys.
        Okay to be partisan, but perhaps not so personal.

  3. BMacAVL

    It is the whole system to blame and not a specific party. The reason we continue to have this conversation is because everyone belonging or siding with one of the other party refuses to admit the system as a whole is greedy and ONLY looks on for one another regardless of party affiliation…sad but this is a prime example of our system protecting itself.

  4. URTV, Western North Carolina Community Media Center, was a place the public could come and assemble, become a member and take classes for a nominal fee and create art using video cameras, light systems, editing studio, 2 live cablecast and video streaming TV studios. It was a model public access station (P.E.G), created by funding through the 1934 Communication Act. https://www.youtube.com/user/WNCMediaCenter/videos There were shows that exposed the corruption in Asheville & Buncombe County govt. The only way to silence the people was to deny funds. The media center was forced to close despite objections from the producers, mass media used scandel to distract from the real story. Watch BC gov meetings in 2011. To learn about the whole story, here is a playlist. https://youtu.be/xNq5QNhplW8 They privileged themselves with the P.E.G. money to create an award winning BC Govt TV station. The City of Asheville denied the RFP for a community media center. June 9, 2013, I filed a Civil Rights Lawsuit pro se, in Federal Court, Landis v Buncombe County, NC Government, et al. Took it all the way to the Supreme Court to expose Wanda Greene’s corruption. She was only one of the defendants. David Gantt, Bill Stanley, Kathy Hughes, and former DA Ron Moore, are a few more. Every official who was present at those Commissioner’s meetings, was willfully blind to the corruption. I’m looking forward to seeing who Wanda is going to throw under the bus to save herself… Let’s Make a Deal Wanda… LMAO

    • Lulz

      All Democrats lulz. The only way they can get elected is to silence others and deflect. Perfect example is the Trump comments here. Leftist can’t run on policy because it’s based on lunacy. So they have to sow division, spread hate, and of course cheat elections.

  5. SmugMug

    Lulz, your GOP just passed the most heinous ripoff of working class people in history under the tender name of “Tax Reform”. The nonpartisan CBO estimates that the GOP tax law alone will add $1.852 trillion to the deficit over a decade, after accounting for the expected short-term boost to the economy. So much for the deficit hawks. It’s just a means to an end, actually a couple of ends: Further enrich the 1% while working class and poor families get poorer, and provide a convenient excuse to cut Social Security and Medicare (while not taking a dime away from the military). Talk about stealing from the people you purport to love so much.

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