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Friend denies he gave $4,000 to Coke trade secrets suspect

ATLANTA - A friend of the woman charged with conspiring to steal Coca-Cola trade secrets denied Tuesday that he gave the defendant $4,000, contradicting her testimony that money she deposited two weeks before her arrest came from him rather than payment for the scheme.

''Prior to her arrest, did you ever give her $4,000 in cash?'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak asked Roswell businessman Clifton Carroll, referring to Joya Williams.

''No, sir,'' Carroll responded.

Carroll was called by the government as a rebuttal witness after the defense rested its case after Williams testified for a second day that she believes she is a victim, not a criminal. Closing arguments in Williams' trial were expected Wednesday.

On Monday, an undercover FBI agent testified about a $4,000 cash deposit that posted to Williams' bank account on June 19, 2006. That was three days after the agent gave co-defendant Ibrahim Dimson $30,000 in cash in exchange for a sample of a new Coca-Cola product that was part of so-called Project Lancelot.

Williams, who was fired as a secretary to Coca-Cola's global brand director at the company's Atlanta headquarters after the allegations came to light, testified Monday that the money she deposited came from Carroll, not Dimson.

But Carroll told jurors Tuesday that isn't true. He said the most money he ever loaned Williams was $400, and that was after her July 5 arrest.

Williams' credibility will be an issue for the jury to weigh during its deliberations.

Earlier Tuesday, Williams testified that she believes she is the victim of overzealous prosecutors and FBI agents who she claims tore apart her life.

In sometimes confrontational, longwinded responses to questions from Pak, Williams said during her second day on the stand that she didn't take a plea deal to lessen the up to 10 years she faces in prison if convicted because she is innocent.

''I could have took the plea and just faced two, but I felt so strongly about my innocence that I know I didn't do that,'' Williams told jurors. ''I'm here risking going to jail an additional eight years for sitting here on the stand.''

The government has alleged that Williams, 41, stole confidential documents and samples of products that hadn't been launched from The Coca-Cola Co. and gave them to 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.

The exchanges between Pak and Williams were tense at times Tuesday, but Williams did not alter her claim of innocence.

''Did you talk to them about selling Coke secrets?'' Pak asked Williams, referring to Dimson and Duhaney.

''No,'' Williams responded. She then added, ''You are trying to turn it all around to be something else.''

Williams then said she considered Duhaney family, even though the two are not related.

Pak then asked Williams about the key she claimed she left under her doormat for one of the co-defendants, perhaps suggesting a means by which the documents could have been stolen from her.

''When did you first notice that the Coke documents were gone?'' Pak asked.

''I didn't notice the Coke documents were gone really until you all came and busted the door with the 30 guns,'' Williams said, referring to her arrest.

Pak also asked Williams about a FedEx package she sent to Dimson last year, and a text-message she sent to a former boyfriend nine days before the trial began. The former boyfriend testified previously that he felt Williams wanted him to lie on the stand about what was in the package.

But Williams testified Tuesday that she didn't try to coerce him, and she insisted she did not know what was in the package.