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Uncovered Buncombe County receipts reveal thousands more spent on gift cards

Receipts from a former administrative assistant to retired County Manager Wanda Greene show more than $9,000 worth of gift cards were bought earlier than previously reported. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

News 13 has found more Buncombe County tax dollars spent on gift cards.

Receipts from a former administrative assistant to retired County Manager Wanda Greene show more than $9,000 worth of gift cards were bought earlier than previously reported.

These additional gift card purchases happened between November 2012 and May 2013.

"These documents show that there were a lot of really questionable purchases made," County Commission Chair Brownie Newman said.

A receipt submitted by this employee in early 2014 includes a late 2013 email from Greene asking this employee to buy gift cards because, "You've done it before and understand." News 13 has found gift cards purchased before.

In May 2013, this employee bought more than $8,000 worth of gift cards to Office Depot, Target, Walmart, and Staples. A receipt from November 16, 2012, shows a $1,000 gift card bought at Walmart.

"As with some of the other previous disclosures about purchase of gift cards, and other things that could be for private benefit instead of public use, it raises a lot of concerns," Newman said.

Gift card purchases from this employee spanned years. A note submitted with a receipt in 2017 shows Greene asking for $14,000 of gift cards.

Those purchases came in the weeks before Greene announced her retirement. News 13 previously reported lower-level employee's county credit card records dating back to 2014. News 13 has now obtained spending records dating back to when the employee first got a county credit card, which the county says was in March 2012.

"I think there was not nearly enough oversight of how those cards were purchased, and frankly just the policies that allowed them to be purchased at all," Newman said.

A federal search warrant application indicates gift card purchases are part of the investigation. The county does not have a record of when Wanda Greene first got a county credit card, but she stopped having one in February 2011.

County leaders are working on changes to the credit card policy. Newman proposes banning the purchase of gift cards except for perhaps as few as two departments that need them.

Newman also wants to limit the number of people who have county credit cards and plans to push for the county to publish credit card purchases.

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