A former Uber executive is sentenced for 18-month imprisonment on Tuesday. Businessman Anthony Levandowski pleaded guilty of thieving Google’s internal document related to its self-driving car project. He was also fined $95,000 and should pay $756,499.22 in restitution to Waymo, the tech giant’s self-driving car unit.
The 40-year old engineer took a plea agreement, pleading guilty to one of the 33 counts of stealing company trade secrets, filed against him last year. He is at the center of a 2017 lawsuit that Google filed against ridesharing services company Uber. Levandowski is among the founding members of Google’s self-driving car program, Project Chauffeur as it was internally known. The largest search engine company accused him of retrieving internal business files and obtaining those documents prior to his departure from Google.
In early 2016, he left Google to begin an autonomous trucking business called Otto. His company was bought by Uber several months later. Per the Uber, Levandowski was fired after not complying with internal investigations regarding Google’s accusations. The two companies reached a settlement in 2018. One year ago, the District Attorney charged Levandowski of theft of trade secrets.
US District Judge William Alsup said that “this is the biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen. This was not small. This was massive in scale.”
While Uber has refused to give a comment, a Waymo representative called out the actions of the former exec as “enormously disruptive and harmful to Waymo, constituted a betrayal, and the effects would likely have been even more severe had it gone undetected.” The spokesperson stated: “Judge Alsup’s decision today… represents a win for trade secret laws that promote cutting-edge technology development.”
Anthony Levandowski, a former Uber executive who oversaw its self-driving vehicle efforts, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing an internal document from Google related to its self-driving car program https://t.co/0xvkcBTwM4
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) August 5, 2020
‘Time’ in Pandemic
It is not clear, though, regarding when Levandowski will serve his time. This is due to the country’s current health crisis. According to his counsel from Ramsey & Ehrlich LLP, “We’re thankful to Judge Alsup for allowing Anthony to stay out of custody for now, given the extraordinary circumstances brought on by the pandemic.”
His attorneys released a statement from Levandowski, which reads: “Today marks the end of three and a half long years and the beginning of another long road ahead. I’m thankful to my family and friends for their continued love and support during this difficult time.”