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Submitted by WWAY on Thu, 09/22/2011 - 11:36am.

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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