By Harry Weber
Feb 03, 2007
ATLANTA -- A United States federal jury has convicted a former Coca-Cola
secretary of conspiring to steal trade secrets from the world's largest
beverage maker in an effort to sell them to rival Pepsi.
Joya Williams, who had claimed she was duped by two ex-convicts, faces
up to 10 years in prison. No sentencing date was set yesterday.
The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for 11 1/2 hours over
three days. On Thursday, jurors told U.S. District Judge J. Owen
Forrester they were "hung" and could not decide. Forrester told the jury
to try again yesterday.
Williams showed no visible reaction when the verdict was announced. She
remains free on bond, pending sentencing. Her lawyer plans an appeal.
Williams was fired as a secretary to Coca-Cola's global brand director
at the company's Atlanta headquarters after the allegations came to
The government said Williams stole confidential documents and samples of
products that hadn't been launched from Coca-Cola Co. and gave them to
Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney as part of a conspiracy to sell the
items to Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc. for at least $1.5 million
The conspiracy was foiled after Pepsi warned Atlanta-based Coca-Cola
about a letter received in May 2006 offering Coca-Cola trade secrets to
the "highest bidder." The Federal Bureau of Investigation launched an
undercover probe and identified the letter writer as Dimson.
Dimson and Duhaney have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Duhaney testified during Williams's trial that Williams spearheaded the
scheme. Dimson did not testify.
The government said Williams was deeply in debt, unhappy in her job and
seeking a big payday, so she embarked on the scheme to steal trade
Defence lawyer Janice Singer urged jurors to use their common sense and
argued that prosecutors did not prove their case beyond a reasonable
Singer suggested Dimson and Duhaney stole the documents and product
samples from Williams without her knowledge and conspired to sell them
to Pepsi behind her back. Singer also told jurors that Dimson and
Duhaney are criminals and shouldn't be believed. The two served prison
terms at the same time at a federal penitentiary in Montgomery, Ala.
Duhaney served nearly five years of a seven-year sentence on a cocaine
charge before being released in 2005; Dimson served less than one year
of a two-year sentence on a bank-fraud charge before his release in
During two days on the stand, Williams testified that she didn't steal
anything from Coke, but rather took documents and product samples home
to protect herself in case her boss questioned whether she was doing her
She also claimed that $4,000 in cash she deposited into her bank account
in June 2006, just days after Dimson was given $30,000 in cash from an
undercover FBI agent in exchange for Coke materials, came from a friend,
not from Dimson.
But the friend, Clifton Carroll, testified Tuesday that Williams was
lying; he said the most money he ever lent her was $400, and that was
after her July 5 arrest.
After the verdict was announced, Singer said her client had been
``prepared for the worst. She was ready for whatever the jury did.''
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