SAN FRANCISCO — Anthony Levandowski, a star engineer who helped construct Google’s autonomous automobile unit, pleaded responsible on Thursday to stealing commerce secrets and techniques from the web big.
Mr. Levandowski left Google in 2016 to begin his personal autonomous automobile firm, which Uber shortly acquired. Waymo, the self-driving automotive enterprise spun out of Google, sued Uber in 2017, claiming that Uber had purchased Mr. Levandowski’s firm as a method to purchase the data he had taken from Google. Uber fired him that yr, and the businesses settled the swimsuit in 2018.
But scrutiny remained on Mr. Levandowski. In a separate case, Waymo accused him of illegally poaching its staff to work for him. And in felony costs filed in August, federal prosecutors claimed that Mr. Levandowski had stolen greater than 14,000 recordsdata associated to the Google and Waymo autonomous automobile program shortly earlier than his departure. He was charged with 33 counts of theft and tried theft of commerce secrets and techniques from Google.
Mr. Levandowski pleaded responsible to one rely of commerce secret theft in an settlement with federal prosecutors to drop the remaining costs, in accordance to a court docket submitting. The plea carries a most sentence of 10 years in jail and a most superb of $250,000.
“I downloaded these files with the intent to use them for my own personal benefit, and I understand that I was not authorized to take the files for this purpose,” Mr. Levandowski stated within the plea settlement.
This month, a San Francisco County court docket ordered Mr. Levandowski to pay $179 million to Google to resolve the worker poaching claims. He filed for chapter safety, claiming that he had $50 million to $100 million in private belongings and never sufficient to pay the damages Google sought.
“Mr. Levandowski’s guilty plea in a criminal hearing today brings to an end a seminal case for our company and the self-driving industry, and underscores the value of Waymo’s intellectual property,” Waymo stated in a press release. Uber declined to remark.
The authorized information service Law360 and The Washington Post reported the plea earlier on Thursday.
“Mr. Levandowski accepts responsibility and is looking forward to resolving this matter,” his attorney, Miles Ehrlich, said in statement. “Mr. Levandowski is a young man with enormous talents and much to contribute to the fast-moving world of A.I. and A.V., and we hope that this plea will allow him to move on with his life and focus his energies where they matter most.”
Mike Isaac contributed reporting.