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WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — For the last several months, state and federal investigators have been investigating the New Hanover County ABC Board, including the activities of its former administrator Billy Williams. Today, this investigation has culminated in an indictment of Williams and the conviction of Lee F. Cowper, a local contractor. The venues for these prosecutions have been dictated by the applicable law and the jurisdictional requirements of both Federal and State law.

This afternoon in Wilmington, Williams was indicted by a New Hanover Grand Jury for the felony offense of obtaining property by false pretense. Williams, who is represented by local attorney James “Buddy” Allard, will be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office for New Hanover County in Superior Court. Williams is expected to be arraigned in courtroom 403 at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Also this morning in Raleigh, before the Honorable James C. Dever III, Cowper entered a guilty plea to mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. Cowper will be sentenced on May 16,2011.

George Holding, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina commented: “The defendant’s corruption cheated taxpayers of New Hanover County and now he must pay for his crime.”

Ben David, District Attorney said: “Both the state and federal prosecutions came about through the combination of months of effort by many dedicated professionals and great team work by the FBI, SBI, US Attorney’s Office and the DA’s Office. We are pleased that Mr. Cowper took responsibility for his role in the scheme. More work remains in the case against Williams.”

Because both cases are pending, neither the US Attorney’s Office nor the District Attorney’s Office will have any further comment, apart from their respective press releases.

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