Prosecutors say a former Coca-Cola secretary took confidential documents from the beverage giant and samples of products that had not been launched with the aim of selling them to rival Pepsi. Her lawyer says she was duped by two ex-cons and did not commit a crime.
A jury will be asked to determine who is telling the truth. The process of selecting that jury starts today in Joya Williams' trial.
Williams, who was fired as an administrative assistant to the Coca-Cola Co's global brand director after the alleged scheme came to light last summer, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy.
Williams, Edmund Duhaney and Ibrahim Dimson were indicted on the single federal charge, accused of stealing new product samples and confidential documents from Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and trying to sell them to Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo Inc.
The alleged plans were foiled after Pepsi warned Coca-Cola in May and an undercover FBI investigation was launched.
Dimson and Duhaney have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Duhaney is expected to testify against Williams, though it is unclear if Dimson will.
The two men served prison terms at the same time at a federal penitentiary in Montgomery, Alabama. Duhaney served nearly five years of a seven-year sentence on a cocaine charge before being released in 2005; Dimson served less than one year of a two-year sentence on a bank fraud charge before his release in 2004.
Williams' lawyer, Janice Singer, said she plans to make the two men's credibility a key issue in her client's defense. Williams does not have a criminal record, another attorney who previously represented her has said.
"The case is about two felons who manipulated and used my client without her knowledge," Singer said. "She did not take any documents she believed to be trade secrets to share with these people or to harm Coke and benefit Pepsi, nor did she intentionally knowingly give them any documents."
Singer said that Williams was allowed to take home documents from her job. She suggested that Dimson and Duhaney stole the materials from her.
"We're not denying that she possessed them, but we are denying that she conspired with the other defendants to do anything nefarious or wrong," Singer said.
However, prosecutors say they have a strong case. That includes video surveillance showing Williams at her desk at Coke headquarters going through multiple files looking for documents and stuffing them into bags, according to court records. She also was observed holding a liquid container with a white label, which resembled the description of a new product sample, before placing it into her personal bag, prosecutors say.
The prosecution says a box containing two undisclosed product samples and other confidential papers were found in Duhaney's home during a search on July 5, the day all three were arrested.
Coke has declined to give details about the samples, including which products they are for. The indictment only refers to a mysterious "Project N."
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
MORAL COURAGE: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the global community to face China’s intention to subdue Taiwan and reject such irrational requests The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday strongly condemned the Chinese government for meddling with US officials’ interactions with Taiwan after FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed China’s efforts to discourage US officials from visiting Taiwan. The greatest long-term threat to the US’ information security and intellectual property, as well as its economic vitality, is China’s counterintelligence and economic espionage operations, Wray told a video event at the Hudson Institute in Washington. Beijing is engaged in a highly sophisticated and maligning foreign influence campaign, with methods that include bribery, blackmail and covert deals, he said. Giving an example, Wray said that when a US official
CAUTION: Taiwan had zero cases of death from food poisoning for six years until last year, when two people died after eating wildlife, an FDA official said The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public not to eat wildlife or unidentified wild plants, as they could be fatal, with nearly 7,000 people affected by food poisoning last year, including two deaths due to wildlife consumption. The number of food poisoning incidents increased by nearly 50 percent last year, from 398 cases involving 4,616 people in the previous year to 503 cases involving 6,944 people, FDA data showed. That figure was the second-highest in history, the FDA said, adding that the highest number was recorded in 1997, with 7,235 people. Among the 503 cases, 87 were food poisoning clusters