A federal jury found a former Coca-Cola Co. employee guilty Friday of conspiring to steal trade secrets of the beverage giant and trying to sell them to rival PepsiCo Inc. for as much as $1.5 million.
Joya Williams, a former assistant to the director of global brands at Coca-Cola, could get a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Williams, 41, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. “She’s holding her own,” said defense attorney Janice Singer, who said an appeal was planned. “She seems pretty strong.”
Williams took the stand in her own defense and testified that although she routinely copied and took home work documents, she had no part in the plan to steal and sell sensitive data of her former employer to Pepsi.
Instead, Williams said, she was deceived by Ibrahim Dimson of New York and Edmund Duhaney of Decatur, Ga., her two codefendants, who pleaded guilty in October.
Duhaney testified that Williams, a family friend, initiated the plan and provided confidential Coke documents and samples of unreleased products. Duhaney said Williams was to have received $150,000 if Pepsi paid for the confidential information.
The jury of seven women and five men took about 12 hours to reach the verdict. They began deliberating Wednesday. On Thursday, the panel sent a note saying it was deadlocked, but U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester urged jurors to think over their positions and resume discussions Friday.
During the trial, prosecutors introduced a surveillance video showing Williams putting documents into a bag at her Coca-Cola office and phone records showing calls made from Dimson’s number to Williams’ number shortly after Dimson had spoken with an undercover agent who posed as a third party on behalf of Pepsi expressing interest in Coca-Cola documents.