Convicted contractor testifies against former ABC administrator


JACKSONVILLE, NC (WWAY) — In day two of the Billy Williams trial, jurors heard testimony from a key witness: contractor Lee Cowper.

Williams, the former New Hanover County ABC administrator is accused of making an illegal agreement with Cowper to build a two-story garage at Williams’s home.

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Cowper is no stranger to the courtroom. Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court for his roll in the alleged scheme to bill the ABC Board for a two-story garage at Williams’s home.

Cowper told the jury how he became involved with Williams. Cowper said he placed several bids to build numerous ABC stores in New Hanover County. District Attorney Ben David asked Cowper what the construction of the buildings consisted of. He answered just a shell.

Cowper also told the jury that on several projects he won and built he earned a 15-percent mark-up on the total bill. He said Williams agreed to the mark-up. Cowper also told the jury that he was hired to makes “changes” to the ABC stores he built. Cowper explained the changes actually consisted of the remaining work that the stores needed like electrical wiring, plumbing and windows.

After answering several questions about the ABC stores Cowper was then asked about the garage built at Williams home. Cowper told the jury that Williams did not pay him for the full cost of the job and told him to bill the rest to the ABC.