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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Former New Hanover County ABC administrator Billy Williams made his first appearance in New Hanover County court Tuesday morning, pleading not guilty to felony charges that he paid for private construction on his property with public money.

A grand jury indicted Williams Monday for charges of obtaining property under false pretenses. The indictment came shortly after private contractor Lee Cowper pleaded guilty to mail charge in federal court in Raleigh for his part in the scheme.

A superior court judge said Williams could serve up to 30 months in jail if convicted and set an unsecured bond for $43,860. That’s the exact amount of public money that Williams is accused have paid Cowper for to build a garage on his property.

A prosecutor said he planned to seek aggravated factors in the case.

As Williams and his lawyer Buddy Allard left the courtroom, Allard said it would be inappropriate for Williams to comment at this time. Allard also said a not guilty plea is common in cases like Williams’s.

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