Arlington Heights man sentenced for stealing trade secrets

A former Arlington Heights man has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets from the paint company that employed him, Valspar Corp. in Wheeling.

David Yen Lee, 54, who now lives in Jersey City, N.J., admitted to downloading about 160 “batch tickets,” or formulas for paints and coatings, from the firm's Wheeling offices as he prepared to make a career move from Valspar to Nippon Paint, based in Shanghai, China, at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. Lee, who'd worked as a technical director in Valspar's architectural-coatings group since 2006, had accepted a position with Nippon in 2009 when the theft was discovered.

The information was valued at between $7 million and $20 million, although there was no evidence it was ever delivered to the competing firm.

Lee was ordered to begin serving the federal prison sentence next year, along with paying restitution of $30,975, the cost of Valspar's internal investigation.

Valspar is a global paint company based in Minnesota and with offices in Wheeling.