This news item expired on Thursday, June 6, 2019 so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
Buncombe County Commissioners Respond to Additional Federal Charges Leveled at Former County Manager Wanda Greene regarding Life Insurance Fraud and Announce that a Civil Lawsuit will be Filed Against Wanda Greene and Michael Greene
Buncombe County is aggressively pursuing all legal recourse to recover public funds including filing a civil lawsuit against Wanda Greene and Michael Greene and seeking restitution for all losses caused by the actions of Wanda Greene, her son Michael Greene, as well as any other persons or entities that have participated in or profited from the unlawful actions of Wanda Greene and Michael Greene.
Prior to the announcement of a new Federal Indictment in the Wanda Greene investigation, Buncombe County had been requested by federal investigators not to take any action that might impede the investigation. Buncombe County is now able to share the following information.
From this investigation, it was determined that an unknown number of whole life policies were purchased for known and unknown current and former County employees. Dr. Greene, an experienced CPA and trained internal auditor, structured the use of public funds and payments so there was no master list of recipients. It has taken the last ten months of external and internal investigation to uncover the details regarding what was purchased and the amount of public funds involved.
Based on the information uncovered so far, the following has been determined:
- Greene used an appropriation within an unrelated budget amendment, placed on the consent agenda, to fund the purchase of these policies making it difficult for others to detect her actions;
- The Board of Commissioners never approved this appropriation or the purchase of these policies;
- Greene represented to these current or former County employees that the Board had approved the purchase of these policies for specific employees as an approved deferred compensation;
- Greene caused $2,310,000 to be sent to a life insurance provider through a series of wire transfers in order to fund the purchase of insurance policies and an annuity.
NC General Statues §153A-92 does allow for life insurance to be purchased for an individual or class of employees, however, a public vote by the Commissioners is required. The employees receiving policies were advised by Dr. Greene that these policies were approved by Commissioners and lawful under NC law.
None of these County employees had any knowledge or access to information that would have informed them that these policies were not approved nor of the actual cost involved. It is believed that Dr. Greene misled them as a vehicle for her own financial gain and that of her son.
Upon learning that statutory requirements to create a specific class of employees eligible for a benefit were not followed and that the Board did not formally approve any appropriation for the purchase of policies, all employees, except Dr. Greene and her son, Michael Greene, proactively came forward and assigned the policies to Buncombe County. These employees are: Michael Frue; Mandy Stone; Tim Flora; Diane Price; Matt Stone; Greg Isreal; Jon Creighton; Pat Freeman; and Jerry VeHaun. None of these County employees received any financial benefit from this product. Additionally, upon learning that the appropriations were not approved by the Board of Commissioners, the insurance provider has thus far cooperated fully with Buncombe County to recover funds used to purchase the policies assigned to Buncombe County by the aforementioned employees.
Shortly after the effective date of her retirement, Wanda Greene cashed in the policies issued in her name which cost $458,437.59.
Two policies remain outstanding in the name of Michael Greene which cost $143,381.05.
If proven true, this will be another example of Wanda Greene misleading the Board of Commissioners, a number of current and former county employees, and County taxpayers, with the goal to use public funds for her personal benefit while involving other County employees in an attempt to hide her actions.
This internal investigation further revealed that the wire transfers were processed without proper supporting documentation. In this case, Dr. Greene instructed Budget and Finance staff to wire the funds. This is a system weakness that has been addressed and corrected.
As early as the time that County staff originally identified financial irregularities and contacted law enforcement the Board of Commissioners instructed staff to make every effort to recover all funds misappropriated due to Wanda Greene's actions. Senior Staff Attorney has been consulting with outside insurance and bond attorneys since July 2017 in an effort to recover these funds.