President Donald Trump Wednesday pardoned Anthony Levandowski, former Google and Uber engineer and autonomous car expert who was condemned to 18 months in prison in August 2020 for stealing trade secrets from Google.
Levandowski pioneered self-driving car technology at Google and made millions. He left the company to found Otto, a self-driving truck start-up that he sold to giant Uber in 2016 for an estimated $ 680 million. A year later, Google Waymo’s self-driving car unit Uber sued alleging that Levandowski took thousands of Google files, including confidential product designs, with him before he left.
The companies finally came to terms when Uber offered Waymo nearly $ 250 million in stock and agreed not to infringe the company’s intellectual property.
But in August 2019, federal prosecutors charged Levandowski with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft. In March of last year, Levandowski pleaded guilty to one count of theft of trade secrets and admitted to downloading thousands of internal Google documents. on his personal computer. In addition to his 18-month sentence, he was also fined $ 95,000 and $ 756,500 in restitution. A judge agreed to let Levandowski stay out of jail until the end of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Mr. Levandowski has paid a considerable price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to the advancement of the public good,” the White House said in a declaration on the last day of Trump’s presidency announcing pardon with dozen of other. The White House called Levandowski “an American entrepreneur who led Google’s efforts to create autonomous driving technology.”
Among those supporting forgiveness is the billionaire from Silicon Valley Peter Thiel, a longtime Trump supporter and founder of Oculus Palmer luckey, which has previously donated money to a pro-Trump nonprofit associated with the alt-right.
A Waymo spokesperson declined to comment on Levandowski’s forgiveness. Uber did not respond to a request for comment.