Buncombe County to recoup over $2 million from life insurance company

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Buncombe County stands to receive more than $2 million from the life insurance company tied to expensive policies that federal prosecutors say were illegally purchased by former manager Wanda Greene.

County commissioners unanimously approved the proposed $2,081,686.37 settlement offer from Guardian Life Insurance after meeting briefly in a special closed session Tuesday afternoon.

The settlement is nearly $230,000 less than the total amount Buncombe County paid to buy whole life insurance policies for Greene, her son and 10 other employees. The county also paid for an annuity for Emergency Services Director Jerry VeHaun.

Under the settlement, Buncombe County would release Guardian; its broker, Charlotte-based Consolidated Planning Inc., and employees from any liability claims.

The company and the life insurance agent who sold the policies, Bo Cauble, were never named as defendants in the county’s civil lawsuit.

“One of the reasons we haven’t been perhaps as forthcoming is because there were  negotiations that were sensitive in nature and could have been jeopardized if this had been publicized,” said Ron Payne, an Asheville attorney who has been hired as legal counsel for Buncombe’s civil suit.

All employees other than Greene and her son have reassigned their policies to Buncombe.

Nearly $460,000 in county funds was spent on premiums for Greene’s two whole-life policies, according to a federal indictment. More than $101,000 was spent on premiums for one of Michael Greene’s policies.

Buncombe County still will attempt to recoup funds from Wanda and Michael Greene related to the policies. Court records show the county is seeking more than $950,000 in damages through its civil lawsuit against the mother and son.

Wanda Greene cashed out her two policies shortly after retirement, federal prosecutors have said. The county has said that Michael Greene has refused to reassign his policies back to the county.

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