Stealing, it turns out, is wrong.
That’s a lesson former Google engineer, self-driving truck startup founder, and Uber executive Anthony Levandowski will be learning the hard way as he faces a potential prison sentence. According to The Washington Post, Levandowski today plead guilty to a charge of stealing trade secrets from Google.
It was back in 2017 that Uber fired Levandowski over allegations that he had stolen self-driving tech from Google, his former employer. In 2018, he launched his own self-driving startup — apparently strong in his belief that he would weather the legal storm surrounding his (at the time) alleged improprieties.
Dear reader, it sure looks like he was wrong.
“Mr. Levandowski accepts responsibility and is looking forward to resolving this matter,” wrote his attorney, Miles Ehrlich, in a statement to WaPo.
In March, the Wall Street Journal reported that Levandowski filed for bankruptcy.
“Google fought tooth and nail to take back every penny paid to Anthony for his multibillion-dollar contributions and now Uber is refusing to indemnify Anthony despite explicitly agreeing to do so,” wrote Neel Chatterjee, Levandowski’s lawyer, to the Journal. “Anthony had no choice but to file for bankruptcy to protect his rights as he pursues the relief he is legally entitled to.”
Regarding today’s guilty plea, Levandowski admitted to downloading one Google file onto his personal laptop and accessing it after he left the company.
Reuters reports that had Levandowski been convicted on all 33 charges, he could have faced 10 years in prison for each charge. As things stand now, he’s looking at a potential of 30 months. Whether or not Levandowski actually goes to jail depends on the sentencing, however, he has already agreed to pay Google $756,000.
Stealing, it also turns out, doesn’t pay.