NEW YORK – President Donald Trump pardoned a former Google engineer who was sentenced to prison last year for stealing trade secrets from the tech giant related to robotic vehicles.
Anthony Levandowski left Google in early 2016 where he worked in the autonomous vehicle division to start his own company called Otto. That company was acquired by Uber for $680 million as the ride-hailing venture pursued its own autonomous vehicle division.
Before leaving, Levandowski downloaded a trove of Google's self-driving car technology, leading eventually to 33 counts of intellectual property theft against him. He pleaded guilty to one count and was sentenced to 18 months in prison last summer.
Levandowski was among the more than 140 people included in a flurry of clemency action in the final hours of Trump's White House term, which included former chief strategist Steve Bannon, ex-members of Congress and other allies of Trump and his family.
In a White House statement, the administration said the pardon was supported by one-time Trump supporter and tech billionaire Peter Thiel, former Disney executive Michael Ovitz and Palmer Luckey, founder of the virtual reality company Oculus VR. Levandowski thanked the president in an early morning tweet Wednesday, saying he was grateful for the opportunity to move forward.
Uber sold its autonomous vehicles development arm four months after Levandowski was sentenced.