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Wanda Greene Pleads Guilty In Corruption Cases

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Court documents filed Thursday morning show that former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene will plead guilty, ending a corruption and fraud scandal in county government that stretched back more than a decade.  The filing comes a day after the Buncombe County board of commissioners reached a settlement agreement in its lawsuit against Greene, and a day after a judge accepted a plea deal with a former assistant county manager who was charged alongside Greene. 

The factual basis document (read here) does not outline which charges Greene is pleading guilty to, but it does show what she's admits to doing - and that includes crimes alleged in each of the three federal indictments handed down against her last year.  A judge must still accept the plea deal, which could happen at Greene's next court date. 

Greene will admit to using or having subordinates use Buncombe County-owned credit cards for around $136-thousand in personal purchases.  Those purchases happened from 2007 to 2017, the year she retired after 20 years as county manager.  Greene will also admit to 'cashing out' two life insurance policies that were purchased without the express knowledge of county commissioners.  The money used to purchase those policies came from a settlement fund for two civil rights cases against the county. Prosecutors allege Greene inflated the amount needed to pay out those two settlements in a budget amendment approved by commissioners, and used the excess money to buy the policies for herself and other top-level county employees.  Greene will admit to 'cashing out' two of those policies when she retired at the end of June 2017, and then not claiming that in her federal tax return.

Lastly, Greene will admit to receiving more than $5-thousand each year from 2014 to 2017 in 'income, reimbursements, gifts, and things of value to which she was not lawfully entitled' from a contractor that did business with Buncombe County.  That contractor, not named in the indictment but later identified by county commissioners as Joseph Wiseman, was accused by prosecutors of giving vacations and other gifts to Greene and two assistant county managers, Jon Creighton and Mandy Stone.  A judge accepted Stone's guilty plea deal on Wednesday, while Creighton plead guilty late last year.  Wiseman was not charged by authorities but Buncombe County commissioners ended all contracts it held with companies he represented, as well as sued him, a lawsuit that is still outstanding.  Similar suits against Creighton and Stone are outstanding as well.

At their first meeting of 2019 Wednesday night, commissioners accepted a settlement with Wanda Greene over lawsuit against her, wherein she will pay $750-thousand to the county.  Comissioners reached a similar settlement with her son Michael, a former county employee who was charged in the credit card case.  He also reached a guilty plea with prosecutors.

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.
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