ATLANTA (AP) — A federal jury deliberating the fate of a former Coca-Cola secretary charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets from the beverage maker in an effort to sell them to Pepsi told a judge yesterday that it is unable to make a decision.
“We are a hung jury, have taken several polls, and we feel we are unable to reach a decision,” the foreman said in a note to U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester.
Judge Forrester did not declare a mistrial. Instead, he told the jury to take another crack at reaching a verdict today in the case against Joya Williams.
The jury has deliberated nine hours over two days.
Miss Williams, who faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, was fired as a secretary to Coca-Cola’s global brand director at the company’s Atlanta headquarters after the accusations came to light.
The government says Miss Williams stole confidential documents and samples of products that had not been introduced from the Coca-Cola Co. and gave them to Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney as part of a conspiracy to sell the items to Pepsico, of Purchase, N.Y., for at least $1.5 million.
Dimson and Duhaney have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Duhaney had testified that Miss Williams spearheaded the scheme. Dimson did not testify.
The government says Miss Williams was deeply in debt and unhappy in her job and seeking a big payday, so she embarked on the scheme to steal trade secrets.
Defense attorney Janice Singer urged jurors to use their common sense. She argued that prosecutors did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
She suggested that Dimson and Duhaney stole the documents and product samples from Miss Williams without her knowledge and conspired to sell them to Pepsi behind her back. Miss Williams testified earlier this week that she left a key under her doormat for one of the co-defendants to explain how they could have accessed her home.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak said during his closing argument Wednesday that the key-under-the-mat theory was one of many lies told by Miss Williams.
During two days on the stand, Miss Williams testified that she didn’t steal anything from Coke, but rather took documents and product samples home to protect herself in case her boss questioned whether she was doing her job.
She also said the $4,000 in cash that she deposited into her bank account in June 2006, just days after Dimson was given $30,000 in cash from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for Coke materials, came from a friend, not from Dimson.
But the friend, Clifton Carroll, testified Tuesday that Miss Williams was lying; he said the most money he ever loaned her was $400, and that was after her July 5 arrest.
Miss Williams’ credibility has been an issue for the jury to weigh during its deliberations.