Former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene and her son Michael have been indicted on federal charges for alleged misuse of public funds. The charges were announced Thursday morning by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Both Wanda and Michael Greene face fraud and conspiracy charges, while Wanda Greene faces additional embezzlement counts. Those charges stem from alleged improper purchases made with Buncombe County-owned credit cards totaling around $200-thousand over a 10-year period.
Wanda Greene retired last summer after nearly 20 years on the job. Shortly afterwards, federal authorities confirmed she was under investigation, but did not elaborate. When that become public, Michael Greene resigned from his county government job. The indictment alleges the pair used the county-owned cards on purchases at numerous retail outlets and online shopping sites, for everything from food to DVD's to cell phone accessories to clothing to gift cards.
Buncombe County commissioners and the county administration released a joint statement Thursday morning (which you can read in full below) after the indictments were announced. It said that if the allegations were proven true, the "actions are a gross violation of Dr. Greene’s position and power as an appointed County official and Mr. Greene’s responsibility as a County employee."
If convicted of all the charges they face, each Greene faces up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $750-thousand. Both are due in court for their first appearance April 13th.
FULL STATEMENT FROM BUNCOMBE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND COUNTY ADMINISTRATION IN RESPONSE TO INDICTMENTS OF FORMER COUNTY MANAGER WANDA GREENE AND FORMER COUNTY EMPLOYEE MICHAEL GREENE
With the indictments handed down today, we move forward as a community in holding former County Manger Wanda Greene and former employee Michael Greene responsible for alleged criminal actions on their part. If proven true, these actions are a gross violation of Dr. Greene’s position and power as an appointed County official and Mr. Greene’s responsibility as a County employee.
As this continues to be an ongoing federal investigation, the Board of Commissioners and County administration have no further comment at this time. Like you, we want to make sure there is full accountability for these actions.
From day one, the Board and County staff have cooperated fully with the investigation. This process began when County staff discovered financial irregularities upon Dr. Greene’s retirement. Immediately, staff reported these findings to the County’s Senior Attorney who then notified the Chair of the Commission. The Chair and Senior County Attorney decided to turn these findings over to the District Attorney’s office for investigation.
The Board has made it an ongoing priority to implement policies that strengthen the Board’s fiduciary oversight.