Sunday, April 15, 2018

Back in Court ... as an Artist, NOT Defendant!

I got to do another courtroom artist gig with WLOS on Friday.  Wanda Greene is the former County Manager for Buncombe County, NC.  She and her son Michael have been under investigation by the FBI for misappropriation of county funds, and on Friday, they were arraigned in federal court.  The case is a Big Deal in these parts and a great many people have been following it closely.

WLOS called me early in the week to ask if I was available.  Courtroom sessions are fun, so I made myself available, and hooked up with the reporters (Aaron Adelson and Lauren Brigman) and cameramen outside the building Friday morning.  They professionally ambushed the two defendants as they arrived with their attorneys.  A bit later, we went into the building to get situated in the courtroom.

When I arrived, another case was wrapping up.  Seating was almost non-existent, so I stood for a few minutes trying to decide what to do.  Then the judge basically told me to sit down, and the only place available was right next to Wanda Greene.  Her attorney came in a couple of minutes later and sat on the other side of me.  So there I was, drawing materials in my lap, sitting right between the defendant and her attorney!  Awwwkkwaaaaarddd!

Then the first case was over and we all repositioned ourselves.  I wound up in one of the seats in the jury box.  It was great for getting drawings of Wanda, her attorney, and the judge, but Michael was on the far side of them and all I could see was the top of his head.  Time to get to work!

As it turned out, I had more than enough time to get the drawings done.  The judge is a very methodical guy and is known for reading every bit of an indictment.  This time, reading every bit meant reading every item that Wanda and Michael (allegedly) purchased with county funds.  Every item.  Every item on a list 38 pages long.

Every.

Single.

Item.

It took an hour and 45 minutes.

Wanda and Michael (allegedly) didn't spend the money on big-ticket items.  It read like anybody's shopping lists for a period of many years: pizza, a Far Side book, paper towels, lingerie from Walmart, a couple of iPhones, some thumb drives, and so on.  You'd think that if somebody was going to risk their careers by embezzling, they'd go for the gold: Cartier wristwatches, Mercedes cars, trips to Monte Carlo, things like that.  Nope.  Walmart stuff.

So here are the drawings that I produced for WLOS:

The Judge


Wanda Greene and her attorney

Michael Greene

 In Court

Don't know if I'll be called back when the trial actually begins.  We'll see.  The saga continues ...