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Lawyer for former Coca-Cola secretary grills key witness in trade secrets case

Lawyer for former Coca-Cola secretary grills key witness in trade secrets case

A key witness against a former Coca-Cola secretary charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from the beverage giant to sell to rival Pepsi admitted Tuesday he lied to FBI agents when he was first questioned.
Edmund Duhaney, who pleaded guilty in the case and agreed to testify against Joya Williams, was cross-examined by Williams' defense lawyer, Janice Singer, at Williams' federal trial about what he told FBI agents when he was arrested July 5.
"You also told them you weren't sure where Joya Williams worked. That was a lie, right?" Singer asked.
"Yeah," Duhaney responded.
Singer also questioned whether Duhaney was only testifying that Williams spearheaded the scheme in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.
"Is it your hope in this case the government will file a motion for a lower sentence and that you will receive a lower sentence?" Singer asked.
"My hope in this case is that the truth will be told and that Judge (J. Owen) Forrester will make the final decision," Duhaney responded.
"You think you were a small player, right?" Singer said.
"I wasn't a small player," Duhaney responded. "I was involved. I didn't force anybody to do anything. I didn't steal anything."
Also Tuesday, the government played a recording of a June 29, 2006, conversation between Duhaney and another co-defendant in the case, Ibrahim Dimson, in which they discuss some of the products under development by Coca-Cola that they were seeking to sell information about to Pepsi.
They included Vitamin Mineral 506, Healthy Green Tea, Plus 4 Omega, Lemon Hydration and Plus 2 Green Tea Diet. Those names likely were not what the final names of the products Coca-Cola was developing would be but only how Coca-Cola referred to them internally during the development process.
Williams faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the single federal conspiracy charge against her. She has pleaded not guilty. Duhaney and Dimson have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Williams, Duhaney and Dimson were indicted in July, accused of stealing new product samples and confidential documents from The Coca-Cola Co. and trying to sell them to Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo Inc.
Coca-Cola had declined to say what product or products the samples relate to. But Duhaney's testimony shed some light on the products. On Monday, he testified that one product Williams had information about was Coca-Cola Blak, which Coca-Cola launched in January 2006.
The three suspects were hoping to get at least $1.5 million (euro1.2 million) for the scheme, according to a taped phone call between Duhaney and Dimson that was played in court Monday. On the call, the two men discuss how to split the money.
Williams was expected to get a cut of up to $150,000 (euro115,030), according to another recorded call between Dimson and Duhaney played in court Tuesday.
The alleged conspiracy was foiled after Pepsi warned Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and an undercover FBI investigation was launched.
Williams was fired from her job as an administrative assistant to Coca-Cola's global brand director after the allegations came to light.
During her opening statement in the trial on Monday, Singer referred to Dimson and Duhaney as "two seasoned liars, con men who took advantage of Joya Williams."
Singer said Duhaney's deal with the government is his "whole motive in this case" for testifying against Williams.
Dimson and Duhaney 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 does not have a criminal record, another attorney who previously represented her has said.


Updated : 2021-10-21 19:25 GMT+08:00