A prosecutor asked a judge Friday to give a conspirator in a scheme to steal Coca-Cola trade secrets a lighter sentence than federal guidelines recommend partly because he helped the government convict a former secretary for the beverage company involved in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak said in a court filing that because Edmund Duhaney pleaded guilty to conspiracy and testified against Joya Williams at her trial he deserves about a year shaved off his recommended sentence.
"The government submits that the defendant's testimony played an important role in proving Ms. Williams' guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Pak wrote in his motion.
As a result, Pak asked the judge to sentence Duhaney to 27 months to 33 months in prison instead of the 37 months to 46 months recommended in federal sentencing guidelines.
It's unclear what U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester will do when he sentences Duhaney on Tuesday. He is not bound by the guidelines or the prosecution's request and he has already sentenced Williams and another co-defendant, Ibrahim Dimson, to tougher sentences than recommended in their cases.
"With any other judge I would say they tend to follow the recommendation of the government," said Don Samuel, a lawyer for Duhaney. "But Judge Forrester has always been independent of attorneys' recommendations. He may go higher, he may go lower, or he may go with the recommendation. I don't know."
Last week, Forrester sentenced Williams to eight years in prison and Dimson to five years in prison. Williams was convicted of conspiracy on Feb. 2 following a jury trial. Dimson pleaded guilty to conspiracy, though he didn't testify at Williams' trial. On Thursday, Williams' attorney notified the court that she was appealing her client's conviction and sentence.
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 Duhaney as part of a conspiracy to sell the items to rival Pepsi.
The conspiracy was foiled after Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc. warned The Coca-Cola Co. 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 Atlanta headquarters after the allegations came to light.