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FIRST ON 3: Williams trial underway; Prosecution can't argue "willfull blindness"

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JACKSONVILLE, NC (WWAY) -- Former Alcoholic Beverage Control administrator Billy Williams's trial started this morning.

He's charged with making an illegal deal with a contractor who was building him a two-story garage for his home.

Prosecutors say Williams submitted a fake invoice of more than $43,000 to the ABC board, claiming the money was for paving work at one of the agency's stores.

Before the attorneys started choosing the jury, the judge ruled that the prosecution can't argue the theory of "willfull blindness" during open and closing statements. Williams defense attorney, Buddy Allard, said it's inappropriate to argue that his client knew better since he was the ABC administrator.

The judge is also allowing TV cameras into the courtroom after the jury is selected.

Williams has pleaded not guilty to the charge of obtaining property by false pretense.

He had earlier come under scrutiny for earning $232,000 a year, making him the highest-paid ABC administrator in the state.

He retired in January 2010.

(PHOTOS COURTESY OF RAEFORD BROWN)

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