Accused Secretary Takes the Stand at Coke Secrets Trial

31 January 2007

ATLANTA: Joya Williams, the former secretary at the heart of the Coca-Cola Company conspiracy trial, has been giving evidence in court. She denied allegations that she had stolen company secrets in an attempt to sell them to rival PepsiCo.

Williams told the jury in Atlanta she often took company documents home: "I didn't finish them at work and I was supposed to finish them, and I didn't want to get in trouble."

The papers were found in a search of her apartment last July. Surveillance evidence also shows her putting the papers into her bag at work.

Prosecutors claim Williams stole the confidential documents and samples of products under development and gave them to co-conspirators Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney who tried to sell them to Pepsi for at least $1.5 million (€1.15m; £756k).

The soft drinks firm, however, tipped-off Coke and the three were arrested after a sting operation, codenamed 'Project Lancelot', was launched by the FBI.

Dimson and Duhaney pleaded guilty last year and are testifying against Williams [WARC News: 24-Jan-07]. She faces up to ten years in jail if found guilty.

Defense lawyer Janice Singer has accused the pair of stealing the documents from Williams and going behind her back to try to sell them.

She has described Dimson and Duhaney, a family friend, as seasoned liars and ex-cons who would say anything to lessen their guilt in the scheme.

The court also heard from undercover FBI agent Jerry Reichard. He testified that $4,000 in cash paid into Williams' bank account three days after he had given Dimson $30,000 in cash (in exchange for a sample of a new Coke product) was part of the 'Lancelot' sting.

He admitted under cross examination that FBI surveillance of Williams did not show Dimson giving her any money.

The trial continues.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff