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Prison looms for Coca-Cola recipe thief

By staff reporter , 24-May-2007

A former Coca-Cola worker was sentenced to eight years in prison this week for stealing and attempting to sell Coca-Cola trade secrets to its rival, PepsiCo.

Joya Williams, 42, a previous executive administrator at Coca-Cola, was found guilty earlier this year of stealing documents only available to the group's top five executives and then offering them to Pepsi.

 

 

 

Her accomplice, 31-year-old Ibrahim Dimson, got five years for his part. A third man is awaiting sentencing.

 

 

 

The sentencing judge praised Pepsi's "good corporate citizenship" for alerting both Coca-Cola and the FBI.

 

 

 

Williams' eight-year sentence was more than prosecutor's had asked for and has been taken as a warning to those who consider industrial espionage.

 

 

 

One US attorney said: "As the market becomes more global, the need to protect intellectual property becomes even more vital to protecting American companies and our economic growth."

 

 

During the trial, the court heard how Dimson, from Bronx, New York, had contacted Williams using the name 'Dirk'. It was his initial approach to PepsiCo, offering classified information on Coca-Cola, which triggered the FBI investigation.

 

 

 

Dimson later told an FBI undercover agent: "I have information that's all Classified and extremely confidential… …I can even provide actual products and packaging of certain products, that no eye has seen, outside of maybe five top execs."

 

 

Video surveillance later showed Williams stuffing files and a liquid container, believed to be a new product sample, into a bag. Dirk later handed the contents over to the FBI agent at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

 

 

 

Coca Cola confirmed the product sample and documents were genuine.

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