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Former ex-director of Google, Anthony Levandowski, sentenced to 18 months for stealing self-driving car secrets

Controversial engineer Anthony Levandowski, who worked for the Google division that would become Waymo before founding the freight forwarding company Otto and selling it to Uber, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets during his various work in the self-driving industry. His conviction closes the book on a multi-year legal story that stems from Levandowski’s booming and equally declining Silicon Valley career that has spanned much of the past decade.

Levandowski was initially convicted in March, when the US prosecutor proposed a 27-month prison sentence. Judge William Alsup sentenced Levandowski to 18 months’ imprisonment on Wednesday, to be served later on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to TechCrunch.

“The past three and a half years have forced me to come to terms with what I’ve done. I want to take this time to apologize to my colleagues at Google for violating their trust, and to my entire family for the price they paid and will continue to pay for my actions, “Levandowski said in a statement.

Levandowski was once a superstar engineer in the fast-growing world of self-driving cars who helped launch a Google department dedicated to the technology. He was later accused of stealing documents from his time with Google before founding Otto, a self-driving truck company. He would sell Otto to Uber in 2016, which enabled him to join the ride recreation company as a senior executive in the self-driving division.

Shortly after the sale, Google’s self-driving unit, which was then called Waymo, filed a lawsuit against Uber for trade secret theft, over the acquisition of Otto enabling the company to access sensitive and confidential Waymo technology that Levandowski illegally took. on his way out.

Uber and Waymo settled the lawsuit, but Levandowski was still on charges for the criminal charges of trade secret theft by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California after refusing to transfer documents during the lawsuit. Levandowski eventually reached a plea deal and as part of today’s conviction he will pay Google nearly $ 757 million in restitution and a $ 95,000 fine, TechCrunch reports.

In addition to those fines, Levandowski was forced to file for bankruptcy after a separate court order found that he had illegally poached Waymo engineers and was ordered to pay Google $ 179 million, which he was unable to pay.

According to TechCrunch, Levandowski is not ready in the legal department. He filed a lawsuit last month claiming that Uber owed him money as part of the agreement to acquire Otto that it had never paid, because the confrontation with the trade secret with Waymo affected the prospects of the deal and the financial rewards it would have yielded Levandowski, effectively killed it. It’s not clear how that will turn out, but he’s asking for at least $ 4.1 billion, roughly equivalent to the last reported valuation of Uber Freight, the self-driving truck company that saved the company from the takeover of Otto.