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Jury in trial of former Coca-Cola secretary says it's 'hung'

ATLANTA - 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 Thursday 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 foreperson said in a note to U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester.

Forrester did not declare a mistrial. Instead, he told the jury to take another crack at reaching a verdict Friday in the case against Joya Williams.

The jury already has deliberated nine hours over two days.

Williams faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

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.

The government says Williams stole confidential documents and samples of products that hadn't been launched from The Coca-Cola Co. and gave them to Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney as part of a conspiracy to sell the items to Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo Inc. for at least $1.5 million.

Dimson and Duhaney have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Duhaney testified previously that Williams spearheaded the scheme. Dimson did not testify.

The government says Williams was deeply in debt, unhappy in her job and seeking a big payday, so she embarked on the scheme to steal trade secrets.

Defense lawyer Janice Singer urged jurors to use their common sense. She argued that prosecutors did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Singer suggested that Dimson and Duhaney stole the documents and product samples from Williams without her knowledge and conspired to sell them to Pepsi behind her back. Williams testified earlier this week she left a key under her doormat for one of the co-defendants, perhaps explaining how they could have gotten into her home.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak said during his closing argument Wednesday that the key under the mat claim was one of many lies told by Williams.

During two days on the stand, 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 claimed that $4,000 in cash 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 Williams was lying; he said the most money he ever loaned her was $400, and that was after her July 5 arrest.

Williams' credibility has been an issue for the jury to weigh during its deliberations.