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Former Coke secretary convicted in spy case




Former Coke secretary convicted in spy case
Former Coke secretary convicted in spy case



http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/177833 

By Harry Weber
Associated press
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 
light.

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 
(U.S.).

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 
secrets.

Defence lawyer Janice Singer urged jurors to use their common sense and 
argued that prosecutors did not prove their case beyond a reasonable 
doubt.

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 
2004.

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 
job.

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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