- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

12:56 p.m.

ATLANTA (AP) — The U.S. government said in court filings today that it believes a former Coca-Cola secretary convicted of conspiring to steal trade secrets from the beverage giant should be jailed immediately because she poses a flight risk.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Assistant U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak said clothing, prescription medication, papers and other personal items were found in Joya Williams’ Mustang during a search after a fire destroyed her apartment Friday.

The fire, which has been ruled accidental by local officials in Norcross, occurred nearly 90 minutes after the guilty verdict was reached in federal court in Atlanta.

“With no place to live, with no money, with a significant amount of debt and with the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence, the defendant poses a serious risk of flight,” Mr. Pak argued in the motion.

He also indicated that though local fire investigators deemed Friday’s fire to have been an accident caused by an unattended candle igniting some curtains in a bedroom of Williams’ apartment, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continues to investigate the incident.

“Residents from the Hunters Pointe apartment complex reported that they heard what sounded like an argument from Williams’ apartment and items may have been thrown through her apartment windows,” Mr. Pak wrote.

He also said that Williams made inconsistent statements to investigators about her location and actions during the fire.

He added, “Regardless of whether the fire was intentionally or accidentally set, the fact remains that the defendant no longer has a residence at which the pretrial release supervision can be maintained.”

The motion said Williams is a danger to the community. Among other issues, the prosecutor cited Williams’ purported attempt to influence a witness’s testimony at her trial.

During the trial, Williams’ former boyfriend, Sedrick Wilson, testified that Williams contacted him nine days before jury selection began and asked him to lie about the contents of a package Williams had sent to a co-defendant in the Coke case.

“When she was unsuccessful in swaying Mr. Wilson to alter his testimony, the defendant sent harassing and even threatening messages to Mr. Wilson,” Mr. Pak wrote in his motion.

According to the motion, Williams sent a text message to Mr. Wilson two days after first contacting him about the package, stating, “UR a monster. I love you in everyway. I knew how everyway I ever wanted to be loved. I gave to you & I never betrayed the man r the love.” Two days after that, Williams sent another message to Mr. Wilson stating, “I will pay you back.”

The government motion is seeking to force Williams to show why she should not be remanded to the custody of federal marshals and, if she fails to do that, asks the court to order her jailed immediately.

Williams, 41, who was out on bond during her trial, remains free pending sentencing.

She faces up to 10 years in prison for conspiring to steal trade secrets from Coca-Cola Co. to sell them to rival PepsiCo Inc. No sentencing date has been set.

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