Aug. 5 (UPI) — Anthony Scott Levandowski, a founding engineer of Google’s self-driving car program, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Tuesday for stealing files from the tech giant prior to becoming an executive for Uber’s autonomous vehicle project, prosecutors said.
U.S. District Judge William H. Alsup also sentenced Levandowski, 40, of Marin County, Calif., to a $95,000 fine after he entered his guilty plea in March to one count of trade secrets theft, federal prosecutors said in a release.
“This is the biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen,” Alsup said. “This was not small this was massive in scale.”
Levandowski was also ordered to pay more than $756,000 in restitution to Google’s self-driving program, now known as Waymo LLC.
Prosecutors indicted Levandowski on 33 charges of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets in August of last year, accusing him of pilfering numerous engineering, manufacturing and business files in the months leading up to his unannounced departure from Google for Uber in 2016.
According to the indictment, Levandowski was a founding member of Google’s self-driving car project from 2009 until he resigned without notice on Jan. 27, 2016, as the lead of its Light Detecting and Ranging engineering team.
Prosecutors said that Levandowski had decided to leave Google in the fall of 2015 to start a new self-driving company and began negotiations with Uber to acquire it shortly after.
Prior to leaving Google, Levandowski downloaded tens of thousands of files related to its self-driving car business, including critical engineering information about hardware and schematics for the printed circuit boards used in various Light Detecting and Ranging products, among other data, prosecutors said in the indictment.
As part of the plea deal, Levandowski admitted that a reasonable estimate of the loss caused by his theft was $1.5 million.
Levandowski was also sentenced to a 3-year period of supervised release and he will begin to serve his sentence on a later date when risks of COVID-19 abate.