Former Coke Employee Convicted of Stealing Product Secrets

Joya Williams Could Serve 10 Years in Prison

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CHICAGO ( -- A jury today convicted a former Coca-Cola Co. secretary of conspiring to steal Coke secrets and product prototypes and offering to sell them to rival PepsiCo for up to $1.5 million.

Appeal planned
Joya Williams, 41, could serve up to 10 years in prison and is free on bond pending sentencing. The date of sentencing hasn't been set, but her lawyer plans to appeal, according to published reports. The former assistant to the director of global brands at Coca-Cola "misused her unique access as an employee to Coke's trade secrets and other proprietary, confidential information for personal profit," said U.S. Attorney David Nahmias in a statement following the verdict.

Pepsi foiled the scheme when the No. 2 beverage marketer warned its rival that it received a letter in May 2006 offering the secrets to "the highest bidder." Coke then alerted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which launched a sting operation that later identified Ibrahim Dimson as the letter's author. He and Edmund Duhaney, who the government said was a "go-between" in the plot, pleaded guilty and now await sentencing.

Prosecutors said Ms. Williams was unhappy in her job, in debt and looking for a big payday, according to reports. She testified in her own defense over two days during the two-and-a-half week trial, repeatedly denying any role in the plot. Although Mr. Duhaney fingered her as the ringleader, Ms. Williams testified that she was duped by Messrs. Dimson and Duhaney. Mr. Duhaney testified in Ms. Williams' trial that she led the scam and would have received $150,000 if Pepsi had paid for the secret information and product samples.

Deliberated three days
After three days of deliberation, including one day ended in deadlock, jurors came back with the guilty verdict based on playback of taped phone recordings between the three co-defendants, lawyers told reporters.

Coca-Cola has been mum throughout the trial. In a statement issued after the verdict, Coke said it "will continue to take all necessary measures to rigorously safeguard our intellectual capital."
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