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Coke trade-secret suspects appear in Atlanta court

July 7, 2006

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Three people charged with stealing
confidential information from Coca-Cola Co. and trying to sell
it to rival PepsiCo Inc. made their initial appearance on
Thursday in federal court in Atlanta.

The appearance came a day after the trio, including an
executive administrative assistant at Coke, were charged with
wire fraud and stealing and selling trade secrets, including a
sample of a new product from the world’s largest soft drink
company.

Federal prosecutors, who have said Coke learned of the
theft from No. 2 soft drink maker Pepsi, allege that the
suspects sought to sell the stolen Coke information for as much
as $1.5 million.

During the 45-minute hearing in downtown Atlanta, about
1-1/2 miles from Coke’s worldwide headquarters, Judge Joel
Feldman approved a $23,000 bond for Joya Williams, the
41-year-old administrative assistant who worked for the
director of global brand marketing at Coca-Cola.

Feldman, who scheduled another hearing for Tuesday, also
signed a restraining order aimed at preventing the defendants
from discussing Coke’s trade secrets with anyone except their
lawyers.

In addition to Williams of Norcross, Georgia, the suspects
in the case are Ibrahim Dimson, 30, of New York City, and
Edmund Duhaney, 43, of Decatur, Georgia.

Only Williams, who was handcuffed and shackled and clad in
a T-shirt and jeans when she made her initial court appearance,
was granted bond.

Coke spokesman Ben Deutsch said the company told Williams
on Thursday that she had been fired.

Phone records and further investigation showed that
Williams was the source of the trade secrets that were to be
sold, prosecutors said. They said video surveillance showed
Williams at her desk going through files in search of documents
and stuffing them in her bags.

She was also observed holding a liquid container with a
white label, which resembled the description of a new Coca-Cola
product sample, before placing it in her personal bag,
authorities said. The company later verified the sample was
genuine.


Source: reuters



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