Anthony Levandowski, the engineer charged in August with 33 counts of trade-secret theft from Google’s self-driving car project, reached a deal with U.S. prosecutors in which he will plead guilty to one count and the remaining charges will be dropped.
According to a court filing Thursday, Mr. Levandowski will plead guilty to the last count in the indictment, charging him with theft and attempted theft of trade secrets related to “Project Chauffeur,” as Google’s autonomous vehicle program was called at the time. Specifically, Mr. Levandowski said he downloaded a weekly update for the program “with the intent to use it to benefit someone other than Google,” the legal filing shows.
“Mr. Levandowski accepts responsibility and is looking forward to resolving this matter,” Miles Ehrlich, a lawyer for Mr. Levandowski, said in a statement. “Mr. Levandowski is a young man with enormous talents and much to contribute to the fast-moving world of AI and AV and we hope that this plea will allow him to move on with his life and focus his energies where they matter most.”
Mr. Levandowski left Google’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, in 2016 and helped start a company soon acquired by Uber Technologies Inc.
Google parent Alphabet Inc. sued Uber in 2017, claiming that Mr. Levandowski stole more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving Google. Waymo and Uber settled the lawsuit in 2018, but not before the judge in the case asked federal prosecutors to investigate Uber and Mr. Levandowski over possible trade-secret theft.
“Mr. Levandowski’s guilty plea in a criminal hearing today brings to an end a seminal case for our company and the self-driving industry, and underscores the value of Waymo’s intellectual property,” a spokeswoman for Waymo said in a statement.
According to the plea agreement, Mr. Levandowski agreed to a level 17 offense, which has federal guidelines for a sentence of 24 to 30 months in prison. He also agreed to pay Waymo $756,499 restitution.
The plea agreement will resolve the criminal charges against Mr. Levandowski, but there are outstanding issues with his previous employers.
Earlier this month, a judge ordered Mr. Levandowski to pay $179 million to Google, the sum of an award determined in December by an arbitration panel plus interest and lawyers’ fees. The same day of the legal judgment, Mr. Levandowski filed for bankruptcy, listing estimated assets of $50 million to $100 million and estimated liabilities of $100 million to $500 million.
Uber acknowledged in a recent regulatory filing that it has an indemnification agreement with Mr. Levandowski tied to his employment, but the two are in a dispute over whether the company is responsible for the arbitration award.
A spokesman for Uber declined to comment.
—Preetika Rana contributed to this article.
Copyright ©2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8