CHICAGO - A former employee of Valspar Corp., Minneapolis, MN, has admitted to stealing formulas and information from the company with plans to take them to China and sell to a competitor. The former employee, David Yen Lee, plead guilty to theft of a trade secret with the intent to economically benefit someone other than its owner before U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman in Chicago on Sept. 1, 2010.

Lee worked as a Technical Director at Valspar’s Wheeling, IL, facility from 2006 to 2009. He left that job to take a job in Shanghai with Nippon Paint Co., Osaka, Japan. Nippon Paint was not a defendant in the case.

Lee was arrested in March 2009 with a flash drive containing Valspar data in his possession. According to prosecutors, the information was valued between $7 and $20 million.

Lee is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 23.