Two men have pleaded guilty of plotting to steal trade secrets from Coca-Cola Co.

The two men, Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney, were arrested along with Joya Williams, an executive administrative assistant at Coke, in July. The three were charged with stealing company information and trying to sell it to PepsiCo.

Dimson and Duhaney each pleaded guilty yesterday (23 October) to one count of conspiracy in the US federal court as part of a deal with prosecutors.

The two could face up to ten years in prison and a fine of US$134,000. They are set to be sentenced at the end of January. Williams is set to stand trial on 13 November.

The trio were alleged to have tried to sell information to Pepsi in deals worth US$1.5m. Coke learned of the theft and the attempted sale of the "very detailed and confidential information" from Pepsi, which was approached in May by an individual claiming to be a high-level Coke employee.

Pepsi received a letter from the individual, who called himself "Dirk" - alleged at the time to be Dimson - and passed it on to Coke, which immediately contacted the FBI.

During the FBI investigation, video surveillance allegedly showed that Williams was the source of the information. Prosecutors said that she was caught on video looking for company files and stuffing them into bags.

Prosecutors added that the video also showed Williams holding a liquid container with a white label, which resembled the description of a new Coke product sample before placing it into her bag. Coke checked the sample was genuine and said it was in fact a product being developed by the company.