Trump pardoned ex-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, who faced 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets before working for Uber
- Donald Trump has pardoned an ex-Google engineer facing 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets.
- Anthony Levandowski was at the heart of a long-running court battle between Google and Uber.
- Silicon Valley heavyweights including PayPal cofounder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel pushed for Levandowski's pardon.
A former Google engineer facing prison for stealing trade secrets is among a long list of individuals granted last-minute pardons by outgoing US President Donald Trump.
Anthony Levandowski, a founding member of Google's self-driving project Waymo, was sentenced to 18 months in jail last year after admitting to stealing trade secrets in the months before his own trucking startup was acquired by Uber.
Levandowski, 40, is on a long list of more than 140 individuals - including former adviser Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne - to be pardoned by Trump.
The disgraced engineer was expected to begin serving his sentence once the COVID-19 pandemic had passed, but will avoid jail thanks to Trump.
Read more: The definitive story of Anthony Levandowski
In a tweet, Levandowski wrote: "My family and I are grateful for the opportunity to move forward, and thankful to the President and others who supported and advocated on my behalf."
—Anthony Levandowski (@antlevandowski) January 20, 2021
The move was supported by several entrepreneurial heavyweights, including venture capitalist Peter Thiel and CAA founder Michael Ovitz, and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey.
Levandowski was originally indicted on 33 criminal counts of trade secret theft and attempted trade secret theft in August 2019. Presiding judge William Alsup described the case as "the biggest trade secret crime" he had ever seen.
He had left Waymo in January 2016 to set up his trucking-focused startup, Otto. A few months later, Uber acquired the firm for a reported $680 million and put Levandowski in charge of its entire self-driving effort.
Waymo alleged that the ride-hailing giant set up the deal with Levandowski so it could use Google IP to accelerate its self-driving research, resulting in a massive legal battle between the two firms.
Uber and Waymo settled their separate legal dispute for $245 million in February 2018.
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