Wednesday, May 23, 2007, 5/23/2007 01:30:00 PM

Coca-Cola Secretary Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison in Trade Secrets Theft Case

By Todd is reporting that former Coca-Cola secretary Joya Williams has just received an eight year prison sentence for her role in the trade secrets theft that was uncovered with the cooperation of Pepsi and the FBI.

Judge Forrester's sentence for Williams was more severe than the 63- to 78-month sentence recommended by federal prosecutors and federal sentencing guidelines.

He said the seriousness of the crime necessitated a departure from the guidelines, which federal judges are not bound by.

"I can't think of another case in 25 years that there's been so much obstruction of justice," the judge said of Williams' conduct.

Forrester largely ignored a tearful apology by Williams, which was the first time she acknowledged what she did.

"I just wanted to say that I'm not a bad person," Williams told the judge before he imposed sentence. "I'm really not."

She added, "I am sorry to Coke and I'm sorry to my boss and to you and to my family as well."

The government said Williams stole confidential documents and samples of products that hadn't been launched by Coca-Cola and gave them to Dimson and a third defendant, Edmund Duhaney, as part of a conspiracy to sell the items to Pepsi. Duhaney, like Dimson, pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Duhaney will be sentenced later.

The conspiracy was foiled after Pepsi warned Coca-Cola that it had received a letter in May 2006 offering Coca-Cola trade secrets to the "highest bidder." The FBI launched an undercover investigation and identified the letter writer as Dimson.

Williams was fired as a secretary to Coca-Cola's global brand director at the company's headquarters after the allegations came to light.

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