The Sun-Times Media Wire reports that a former chemist and technical director for Valspar Corporation’s architectural coatings group pleaded guilty on Wednesday for stealing formulas and other trade secrets worth up to $20 million as he prepared to go to work for Nippon Paint, an overseas competitor. The defendant was charged with five counts of theft of trade secrets in violation of the federal Economic Espionage Act in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury.
According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office, “Between November 2008 and March 2009, [the Defendant] allegedly downloaded technical documents and materials, including trade secrets belonging to Valspar from Valspar’s secure internal computer network, and removed numerous documents and other materials from Valspar’s offices in Wheeling.” The defendant allegedly purchased a ticket to Shanghai for a flight scheduled to leave on March 27, and on March 16, he resigned his employment at Valspar. Defendant allegedly downloaded data and trade secrets to two external thumb drives.
The Defendant pled guilty to one count of theft of trade secrets. U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman set sentencing for Nov. 23, when he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A written plea agreement calls for a sentence of 57 to 71 months in prison and the Court to order mandatory restitution.