Pete's Prep: Thursday, April 5, 2018

Former Buncombe County Manager and her son indicted

US Attorney Andrew Murray announced the federal grand jury indictments of Wanda Greene and her son, Michael Greene, on charges of misusing of public funds.

From the Department of Justice announcement:

A criminal bill of indictment charges Wanda Greene and Michael Greene with conspiracy to embezzle, steal, obtain by fraud or misapply Buncombe County funds and wire fraud offenses. Wanda Greene is also charged with embezzling public funds and aiding and abetting such embezzlement.


According to allegations contained in the indictment, from about 2007 to August 12, 2017, Wanda Greene and Michael Greene carried out a conspiracy to embezzle public funds, by misusing their government credit cards, also known as PCards, issued to them by Buncombe County, and by using the PCards of other County employees, to make approximately $200,000 worth of improper purchases.   

The indictment alleges that Wanda Greene used these taxpayer-funded cards at Walmart, Target, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Best Buy, Target, TJ Maxx, and to pay for her personal cell phone expenses.

She allegedly bought stuff for herself and others, including groceries, personal hygiene products, clothing, wine and make-up.  She "gave some of the gift cards to other individuals who also used them to make improper purchases."

My obvious question: What other individuals?


According to the indictment, in 2011, Wanda Greene ceased using any County credit cards issued to her, and informed a Buncombe County employee that she was returning the PCards because the records of her use of those cards could be subject to disclosure under North Carolina law.  From that time forward, Wanda Greene allegedly used PCards assigned to subordinate county employees, or directed the subordinate employees to use their PCards to make improper purchases for her, Michael Greene, and other individuals. 

So, Greene's behavior has been known throughout County administration for about 7 years.

And not a single person came forward to a County Commissioner to blow the whistle?

Why would nobody feel comfortable telling Commissioner about this kind of criminality?

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison terms of five years and a $250,000 fine, the federal program fraud charges carry a maximum prison term of 10 years per count and a $250,000 fine, and the wire fraud charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison per count and a $250,000 fine.

US Attorney Murray says the investigation is ongoing.

Documentary looks at how DC "works"

Four members of the House Freedom Caucus gave unprecedented access to a film crew - looking at how our nation's capitol operates.

It's fascinating, infuriating, and frustrating.


You can watch the series here. Only one episode has been released.

1 out of 5 teachers in NC are "chronically absent"

The data is startling. But what does it mean?

From the News & Observer:

More than 20 percent of North Carolina teachers are chronically absent from work, state officials say, costing school districts money to hire substitutes and hurting student learning.

Last school year, 22.6 percent of the state's 97,839 teachers were chronically absent, meaning they used 10 or more non-consecutive sick days. State education officials who presented the data Wednesday attributed the high absenteeism rate in part to how some teachers no longer view it as a profession they plan to stay in for the rest of their lives.

The HR guy at the Department of Public Instruction says the absenteeism is due to people not treating the job as a career anymore.

A member of the state Board of Education says the teachers are simply using the days they're allocated.

"What we have here is a system that says it’s OK to take that day once a month and then we’re going to turn around and say, ‘You’re doing that because it’s allowed and now we’re going to label you chronically absent,'" said state board member Amy White. "That’s not really fair.”

Is it unfair?

If I take every single sick day offered by my employer because I'm sick, I am as chronically absent as a colleague who takes every single sick day offered just to play hooky.

Teacher absenteeism is higher now than previous years, and the absenteeism in our part of the state is lower than in the eastern part of the state.

Maybe it's because we get all those snow days.

It's a good article and worth the read.

Also, the growth in the number of charter schools is slowing down in NC, as well.

You can read that News & Observer story here.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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