Buncombe budget director borrowed against life insurance policy

    Buncombe County budget director Diane Price borrowed against a life insurance policy that is part of a federal case against former county manager Wanda Greene.(Photo credit: WLOS staff)

    After the latest indictment against former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene -- this one involving life insurance policies -- commissioners sent out a news release saying, "None of these County employees received any financial benefit from this product." Now, board chair Brownie Newman says one recipient took out a loan against one of the policies.

    The county's budget director, Diane Price, says she took out a loan against one of her policies. She says the loan was for less than $20,000 and has since been repaid.

    The federal government accuses Greene of illegally using $2.3 million to buy whole life insurance policies and one annuity for herself, her son and several other county employees. Commissioners say wire transfers to pay for the policies were sent without proper documentation, and Newman says Price was involved in making the payments.

    In the initial news release, commissioners said none of the recipients knew the costs involved with their policies. Price held two policies and the county spent $347,000 toward her policies in premium prepayments, according to the indictment.

    "Wanda Greene told all county staff who received the life insurance policies that all appropriate approvals had been made and, as such, I had no reason to think there was any issue in doing a temporary loan against one of my policies and did so in June 2016," Price told News 13 in an email.

    "I do believe that Wanda Greene misled these county employees about what the real nature of these insurance policies was," Newman said.

    The county says all of the recipients have signed their policies back over to the county except for Wanda and Michael Greene.

    "Once I was informed of the failures by Dr. Greene to obtain proper board approvals for the purchase of the policies, I voluntarily assigned my policies over to Buncombe County and received no financial gain from them, including the loan which I repaid," Price said.

    In February, 2016 Price signed a contract for $163,727.55 for an early retirement retention incentive. She says she took her loan out in June of that year. In September, Price signed an employment contract with Wanda Greene. The contract said if Price was fired she was entitled to a year and a half of salary and a year and a half of health insurance. The contract has since been eliminated, according to county attorney Michael Frue.

    In Greene's final days as county manager, Price received a $35, 933.64 bonus. This payment was dated June 9, 2017. She was one of two employees to receive this bonus. Then assistant county manager Jon Creighton was the other.

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