2 Buncombe County Commissioners are asking how Wanda Greene spent millions
BUNCOMBE COUNTY--(WLOS) —
Buncombe County Commissioners Ellen Frost and Mike Fryar question spending by former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene, who remains under federal investigation.
Frost and Fryar say they still can't figure out how Greene spent at least $7 million.
That sum comes from three different sources: Revenue from housing federal inmates, $3.4 million the city of Asheville paid the county in a property deal meant to lure Deschutes Brewery, and savings from a law enforcement training gun range. The commissioners still can't find out how that money was spent, even though they've been asking for months.
There was a time when Frost, a Democrat; and Fryar, a Republican, would not have been sitting down together for an interview.
"The manager deliberately divided us," said Ellen Frost, Buncombe County Commissioners' vice-chair.
In 2015 they say Greene had commissioners move out of their offices, to keep them apart.
"She said, 'We got our offices back, and they're not gonna keep us apart any longer.' Then we started putting things together," said Fryar, crediting Frost with getting commissioners back into their offices.
They described how much trust Wanda Greene had from people within Buncombe County, and how, over time, they lost their trust.
"It just went away. I got to see things, and then she figured out I was seeing things. So she wanted to make sure I couldn't see them," Fryar said.
"If we questioned anything, no matter who it was, we were vilified. And then to compound that, the manager told people that we were crazy, and not to work with us. So we were pretty isolated," Frost said.
They also say Greene told employees not to talk with them.
"She had a lot of power. When you look people in the face, and say, 'Speak to Mike Fryar, (and) I'll fire you," Fryar said of Greene.
"There were three county employees that were really brave, really really brave, and the level of fear was such that we had do to communicate either with encrypted phone apps to them, or one person had to get a burner phone," Frost said.
In addition to asking how money was spent, another unanswered question they have is, what did Wanda Greene's son do?
"I've asked for five years what he did," said Fryar.
"We don't know," said Frost.
"I couldn't ever get an answer," said Fryar.
Michael Greene resigned as business intelligence manager, making $120,349.51 a year, the same day the U.S. Attorney's office confirmed an investigation into Greene "and others."
The commissioners want people to know they are working together in a bipartisan way to make sure a county manager cannot again accumulate the power Greene had.
They say they understand people are mad at commissioners, and they accept a share of responsibility.
News13 left a message Monday afternoon with Greene's attorney.
Here's the first 15-minutes of News 13's interview with Frost and Fryar: