Federal judge says 'no' to Greenes' requests to communicate with relatives

Wanda Greene exiting federal court on Monday, April 23, 2018. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

A federal judge has denied a request made by former Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene and her son, Michael, to communicate with relatives who could be witnesses in their cases.

The Greenes asked to amend their conditions of release to be able to communicate with additional relatives, including two who are county employees.

The prosecution didn't object to the request, but Judge Dennis Howell did. If the bill of indictment against the Greenes is true, then "someone had to be of assistance" Howell said Monday, explaining his decision.

Wanda Greene requested to be able to communicate with her sister Irene Wolfe. Attorney Thomas Amburgey said Wolfe had received a subpoena to appear before a grand jury, and the U.S. Attorney's Office confirmed she is a potential witness.

The Greenes are accused of financial crimes, including misusing county funds for personal use.

Wolfe works in the county's finance department. She started working for the county in 2000. She eventually became the county's financial services manager, earning $106,050.

A week after the investigation into Greene was confirmed, Wolfe took a "voluntary reassignment" and a $30,000 pay cut to work as an accountant. Greene's attorney said Wolfe works in accounts payable.

Wolfe is one of the recipients of an early retirement retention bonus. In 2016, she was also one of 16 employees who made more than six figures to get a 1.5 percent raise. Commissioners said that 1.5 percent raise was meant for the county's lowest paid employees. Greene did not provide an accurate list of people who got this raise while she was county manager.

Michael Greene requested to be able to communicate with Wolfe, Wolfe's daughters, and another sister of Wanda's, Peggy Hughes. Michael Greene's attorney, Ted Besen, said the SBI interviewed one of Wolfe's daughters and had contact information for a potential interview with the other daughter. Besen said he had no information that Hughes is a potential witness, but she does work for the county.

The judge said he did not want the Greenes communicating with people employed by Buncombe County. They have 14 days to appeal the decision.

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