ATLANTA – The two men accused of plotting with a secretary at Coca-Cola Co. to steal trade secrets from the world’s biggest soft drink maker and trying to sell them to archrival PepsiCo Inc. each pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy.
Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney both could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when they’re sentenced Jan. 29.
Former Coca-Cola secretary Joya Williams is still scheduled to stand trial starting the week of Nov. 13.
“She is absolutely not pleading,” Williams’ attorney, Janice Singer, said.
During the plea hearing in federal court, Duhaney told the judge that Williams, a longtime friend, contacted him first and wanted to “make things happen,” while Dimson testified that Duhaney then contacted him to try to broker a deal with Pepsi.
Duhaney entered his plea as part of a deal with prosecutors and will likely cooperate if the Williams case goes to trial, said assistant U.S. Attorney Bjay Pak. In the plea agreement, the government agrees to push for a lighter sentence in exchange for Duhaney’s assistance, though Pak pointed out that Duhaney could still get the maximum sentence.
Duhaney’s attorney, Don Samuel, called his client a “bit player who was very briefly involved as a go-between.”
Dimson’s attorney, Anna Blitz, did not comment on why her client decided to plead guilty.
Williams, Dimson and Duhaney were indicted July 11 on federal conspiracy charges. The three were accused of stealing new product samples and confidential documents from Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and trying to sell them to PepsiCo’s Pepsi unit, which is second in U.S. soft drink sales to Coca-Cola.
The alleged plans were foiled after Pepsi, based in Purchase, N.Y., warned Coca-Cola.
The prosecution says a box containing two undisclosed Coca-Cola product samples and other confidential company documents was found in Duhaney’s home during a search on July 5, the day all three were arrested and the same day a $1.5 million transaction was to occur.