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Former Google, Uber Engineer Gets 18 Months For Stealing Secrets

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A former engineer at Google and Uber pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing confidential information from Google's self-driving car program and received an 18-month prison sentence, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Anthony Scott Levandowski, 40, pleaded guilty to one of the 33 counts of trade secrets theft originally filed against him in 2019. In addition to his sentence, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered Levandowski to pay a $95,000 fine and $756,499.22 in restitution.

Levandowski, a Marin County resident, worked in Google's self-driving car program from 2009 to 2016 before leaving for Uber. When he left, he downloaded about 14,000 files about the program to his laptop. 

Read Anthony Levandowski federal indictment

Anthony Levandowski
Anthony Levandowski, Otto Co-founder and VP of Engineering at Uber, speaks to members of the press during the launch of the pilot model of the Uber self-driving car at the Uber Advanced Technologies Center on September 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (ANGELO MERENDINO/AFP/Getty Images)

"Levandowski admitted he downloaded this file with the intent to use it to benefit himself and Uber Technologies, Inc," a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Northern District office read.

The DOJ estimated that the loss attributed to Levandowski's theft was up to $1,500,000.  

"This is the biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen. This was not small.  This was massive in scale," Judge Alsup said when sentencing Levandowski.

Levandowski agreed to the plea deal back in March after declaring bankruptcy. He still owes $179 million to Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., according to CNBC

Judge Alsup ruled that authorities could take him into custody after the COVID-19 pandemic ended. As part of his deal, the court granted Levandowski a 3-year period of supervised release with the condition that he regularly give a speech called "Why I Went to Federal Prison." 

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