Friday, February 2, 2007
A jury convicted Joya Williams, a former secretary to the global brand director of the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, of conspiracy to steal trade secrets and sell them to rival Pepsi. Williams was one of three defendants arrested in July 2006 after Pepsi notified the FBI that individuals were trying to sell information and samples of Coke products. An undercover operation involved giving $30,000 as a down payment for the trade secrets. Two co-defendants pled guilty and one testified against Williams, who maintained her innocence when she testified at trial. She asserted that the two defendants may have stolen the items that were to be sold to Pepsi by using a key under the front mat to enter her house, and that she had the company's secret information to protect herself from a claim that she was not working. Williams also testified that a $4,000 cash deposit to her account after the $30,000 payment was a loan from a friend, but the friend testified that the most he had lent her was $400 after her arrest.
It's not clear whether Williams' testimony helped or hurt her. The jury initially told that court it was deadlocked before being instructed to continue deliberating, so it was at least a close enough case to require the jury to resolve significant differences before returning their jury verdict. An Atlanta Journal Constitution story (here) discusses the jury deliberations, and an AP story (here) discusses Williams' testimony at trial. (ph)