July 5, 2006, three suspected spies were arrested for allegedly trying to sell Coca-Cola secrets to PepsiCo. Joya Williams, an ex-Coke employee, plead not guilty while her co-conspirators, Edmund Duhaney of Decatur and Ibrahim Dimson of New York, plead guilty. On Friday, February 2, 2007 Williams was convicted of trying to sell Coca-Cola secrets to PepsiCo for $1.5 million. Williams is currently out on bail while she awaits sentencing, which could be anything up to a maximum of ten years. Duhaney and Dimson are still waiting to be sentenced as well.
The Fizzled Plot
PepsiCo brought the scheme to light after they were approached by the trio. PepsiCo presented papers from a person claiming to be a high-level employee offering to sell Coca-Cola products samples and other confidential information to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola in May of 2006. Coca-Cola then contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and set the investigative wheels in motion. The spying trio didn’t know that their Pepsi contact was actually an undercover FBI agent running a sting operation.
Joya Williams, an ex-Coca-Cola secretary, said she made a habit of copying and taking home documents from her job, but she had never intended to try to sell Coca-Cola secrets to anyone. Williams claims she was deceived by Duhaney and Dimson. Edmund Duhaney testified that Joya Williams masterminded the plan, provided the confidential Coca-Cola documents and the Coca-Cola samples.
Coca-Cola, however, presented videotape surveillance that showed Williams taking documents and product samples from her office at all hours of the night. In addition, in taped wiretapped conversations, co-conspirators Dimson and Duhaney discuss how they need to get more confidential documents and product samples from their supplier.
The Jury and Attorneys
Defense attorney, Janice Singer, got a chance to meet with the jury after they delivered their verdict on Friday. Singer said the jury wasn’t convinced by the mysterious $4000 deposited in Williams’ bank account because they didn’t believe the witness, the friend who supposedly gave Williams the money, when they denied any knowledge of the money. Jury members left Defense attorney, Singer, feeling as if the jury did not believe the so-called friend because he worked for Coca-Cola and had reason to lie to protect his position with the company. One juror told Assistant U.S. Attorney BJay Pak that Williams could have gotten the money by “winning the lottery” for all they knew.
The jury on the Coke trade secrets case was deadlocked at 50-50 for approximately 12 hours before finally coming to a guilty verdict. Ultimately, according to the jury, it was the wiretapped conversations between Edmund Duhaney and Ibrahim Dimson, admitted co-conspirators to Williams, which finally convinced them to go with a guilty verdict. The jurors felt Dimson and Duhaney knew things they could only have learned from Williams. Jurors also felt that the wiretapped tapes corroborated Duhaney’s testimony, which had seemed suspect to them, at first.
Some Background on the Co-Conspirators
Duhaney and Dimson are both felons and met while serving time in a federal prison in Alabama. Duhaney testified that he had pulled Dimson into the deal because of his business sense. Duhaney and Williams are supposed family friends with Williams being the godmother of Duhaney’s children. Duhaney and Dimson pled guilty to charges and are now awaiting sentencing. Williams’ attorney, Janice Singer, says she plans to appeal.
Atlanta Journal Constitution accessed February 4, 2007 at: (http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/coke/stories/2007/02/02/0202bizcoketrial.html?cxntnid=bn020207_w)
CNNMoney.com accessed February 4, 2007 at: (http://money.cnn.com/2007/02/02/news/companies/coca_cola.reut/index.htm)