Joseph Wiseman, the contractor involved in the final of three indictments against former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene, plead guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. His guilty plea is the fifth prosecutors have achieved over the past year for an investigation into corruption and fraud in Buncombe County government. He faces up to five years in prison when sentenced.
Wiseman was not named in the indictment that accused of Greene and former assistant Buncombe County managers Mandy Stone and Jon Creighton of accepting trips and other gifts from a contractor that did business with the county. But he was quickly identified by commissioners after the indictment was unveiled. From the 1980's to 2017, Wiseman represented three firms - CDM Smith, Petra Engineering, and Environmental Infrastructure Consulting - that obatined more than $15-million in contracts with Buncombe County government. As county manager, Greene had the authority to award those contracts. County commissioners moved quickly to end those contracts once the indictment was announced.
Even after the guilty pleas of Greene, Stone, and Creighton (and Michael Greene, Wanda's son who was also a former county employee was charged in a different indictment), authorities said the corruption investigation was not over. Wiseman plead guilty without being indicted. In the 'factual basis' document (read here) outlining what he's pleading guilty to, Wiseman admits that he, Greene, Stone, and Creighton 'conspired to execute a pattern and practice of soliciting and accepting trips, valuable gifts, and other things of value' from Wiseman. The value of those gifts and things of value exceeded $40-thousand according to the factual basis document. Among the destinations for the trips Greene, Stone, and Creighton took include Key West, Boston, Martha's Vineyard, Napa Valley and international locations such as Vienna, Budapest, Cartagena, and Vancouver. Wiseman admits to providing the trio with his credit card numbers to pay for the trips.
The indictment over the trips and gifts was the last of three leveled against Wanda Greene in 2018, the year after she retired as county manager after 20 years in the job. The first involved Greene and her son Michael, also a county employee. They were accused of using county-owned credit cards to make personal purchases over a 10-year period. Both plead guilty to charges related to that indictment. Shortly after, Wanda Greene was also charged with fraudulently purchasing life insurance policies for herself and top-level county employees with taxpayer money. She then cashed-out two of those policies when she retired to pay for a real estate purchase in Tennessee. Greene also plead guilty to charges related to that indictment. She, her son, Stone, and Creighton are all awaiting sentencing.