Former Google Executive Arrested For Alleged Tech Theft

Ilene Eng
By Ilene Eng
August 27, 2019US News

SAN FRANCISCO—A former Google executive who went to work at Uber has been accused of stealing trade secrets from Google. A United States Attorney announced the charges today in San Francisco.

U.S. Attorney David Anderson announced on August 27 that Anthony Scott Levandowski, 39, is charged with stealing information on self-driving cars while working at Google.

“Levandowski was a high-ranking Google executive, with a responsibility for a major engineering team within Google’s self-driving car project, called Project Chauffeur,” said Anderson.

NTD Photo
Anthony Levandowski, Otto Co-founder and VP of Engineering at Uber, speaks to members of the press during the launch of the pilot model of the Uber self-driving car at the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 13, 2016. (ANGELO MERENDINO/AFP/Getty Images)

According to a news release from the Department of Justice, Levandowski worked on Google’s self-driving car project from 2009 until he resigned in January 2016.

Back then, he led the Light Detecting and Ranging, or LiDAR, engineering team. The project consisted of Google’s plans for self-driving car technology.

“All of us have the right to change jobs,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson in the release, “none of us has the right to fill our pockets on the way out the door. Theft is not innovation.”

The former Google executive allegedly downloaded secure files about the project’s engineering, manufacturing, and business information. This included instructions on installing and testing LiDAR technology.

“These are the crown jewels of companies. These are heavily protected confidential information and accessible on a need to know basis,” said FBI agent John Bennett.

At the time he took the files, Levandowski was allegedly involved with two companies that were competitors of Google, Tyto LiDAR LLC and Ottomotto.

The indictment charged him with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets. If convicted, Levandowski would face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution.

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