President Donald Trump pardoned Anthony Levandowski, a former Google and Uber engineer and a pioneer of self-driving car tech who plead guilty last year to stealing trade secrets from the internet giant.
Levandowski first worked at Google but left the company in 2016 to start his own self-driving truck company, which was quickly acquired by Uber for $680 million. That led to Google’s autonomous vehicle unit, Waymo, suing Uber over alleged theft of self-driving car trade secrets. That lawsuit settled in February 2018 with Uber agreeing to pay Waymo $245 million.
Prosecutors also charged Levandowski with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from Google. He plead guilty to one count of trade secret theft in an agreement in which federal prosecutors to drop the remaining charges.
“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,” Levandowski said in a filing last Marc with the US District Court of the Northern District of California.
“Mr. Levandowski has paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good,” Trump said in granting the pardon, adding that it was “strongly supported” by tech and entertainment figures such as Oculus cofounder Palmer Luckey, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel and Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz,
Google sued Levandowski individually in arbitration over quitting his job and breaking his contract with the tech giant. That case concluded in 2019 with a panel agreeing to charge Levandowski with a massive $179 million fine. Hours after the multimillion-dollar award to Google was finalized, Levandowski filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Google and Uber didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Levandowski couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Trump alsoto rapper/singer/songwriter/producer Lil Wayne, who was scheduled for a sentencing hearing later this month for carrying a gold-plated handgun in his luggage on a private flight to south Florida. Trump also commuted the sentence of singer/songwriter Bill K. Kapri, better known as Kodak Black, who was sentenced to 46 months in prison for making a false statement on a federal document when trying to procure firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer.