US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had given a full pardon to a former Google engineer sentenced for stealing a trade secret on self-driving cars months before he briefly headed Uber's rival unit.
Anthony Levandowski, 40, was sentenced in August to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty in March. He was not in custody but a judge had said he could enter custody once the COVID-19 pandemic subsided.
The White House said Levandowski was "an American entrepreneur who led Google's efforts to create self-driving technology."
The statement added he had "paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good." Google did not immediately comment.
Levandowski transferred more than 14,000 Google files, including development schedules and product designs, to his personal laptop before he left, and while negotiating a deal with Uber, where he briefly led its self-driving car unit.
The Levandowski case stemmed from accusations by Google and its sister company Waymo in 2017 that Uber jump-started its own self-driving car development with trade secrets and staff that Levandowski unlawfully took from Google.
Uber issued company stock to Alphabet and revised its software to settle, and the Department of Justice later announced a 33-count criminal indictment against Levandowski.
Prosecutors accused Levandowski of stealing materials in late 2015 and early 2016 after deciding to leave Google and form his own company, Ottomotto, that Uber later bought.
"I downloaded these files with the intent to use them for my own personal benefit, and I understand that I was not authorised to take the files for that purpose," Levandowski said in court papers.
Levandowski, who filed for bankruptcy on March 4 to negotiate his debts, also agreed to pay nearly $756,500 (roughly Rs. 5.5 crores) in restitution to cover costs Alphabet bore assisting the government's investigation, according to court papers.
© Thomson Reuters 2021