Cowper gets probation, fine in ABC scheme

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The contractor who admitted ripping off the New Hanover County ABC Board will avoid jail time. A federal judge today sentenced Lee Cowper to three years probation and a $25,000 fine.

In February Cowper pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Prosecutors say in 2006 Cowper, who was under contract to build liquor stores in New Hanover County, agreed to build a garage at the home of then New Hanover County ABC Administrator Billy Williams for $100,000, which was more than $40,000 less than the actual cost. Cowper then submitted a false invoice for $43,860 worth of paving work to the ABC to cover the cost.

Last month a jury convicted Williams on obtaining money by false pretenses for his role in the scheme.

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Does anyone know if Mr. Williams is still collecting his pension from the county? If this happened at any other company he would have lost his pension. So, if he is collecting it WHY ????

The adjudication of Mr. Cowper's case seems somewhat fair.

But, I'm left wondering if he will maintain his contractor's license?

Will he be barred from business with State and Local governments?

It seems that this was a deliberate and criminal act that, left unexposed, would have soaked the taxpayers.

However, these items are not listed in the article, so I'm assuming that it was not part of his punishment.

I believe that any person, company, or entity that crosses a criminal line should be barred from ALL government contracts and bids.

I hope we don't see a repeat of this insider, good-ole boy practices again.

light sentence handed to Mr. Williams, the defendant's cooperation, and the impact on his business, this sentence seems appropriate

Add up the cost to investigate and prosecute along with the fact that they knowingly ripped off the taxpayers. Williams should be stripped of his six figure pension and Cowper should lose his GC liscence. Both should have to spend SOME time in jail and at least SOME community service.

I agree with you 100%. WHat would have happened if Williams worked for another company. He should lose his pension. He was caught this time.. But how many times did he get away with it...

unemotionally, Chuckles.

Why should he do hard time or community service when Mr. Williams walked and gets to keep his pension?

Had Williams been stripped of his pension and sent up for incarceration, that would be another story.

Cowper didn't have to turn in a false bill, he chose to and Williams allowed it. He could have sued Williams for the money. Both got off with a slap on the wrist.The judicial system is not blind. It's peeking to see who has the most money on the scales...

did you miss that part about Mr. Cowper making restitution of the $43,000 long before his trial or his testimony against Mr. Williams?

And frankly, this impacts not only Mr. Cowper; it affects all of his employees as well as every sub-contractor and their employees which performs work for his construction company.

Mr. Williams can have his pension direct deposited; and disappear in Guatamala.

Mr. Cowper has too many depending on him to do likewise.

I'm not defending what he did. I am stating it's not reasonable to think his punishment should exceed that of Mr. Williams.