Trump pardons Anthony Levandowski, the engineer sentenced to prison for stealing trade secrets from Google

By Arjun Kharpal

  • President Donald Trump has pardoned Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer sentenced to prison for stealing trade secrets.
  • The White House listed tech billionaire Peter Thiel and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey as supporters of Levandowski's pardon
  • In August, Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets.

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski leaves the federal court after his arraignment hearing in San Jose

Reuters/Stephen Lam

President Donald Trump has pardoned Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer sentenced to prison for stealing trade secrets relating to driverless cars from the search giant.

On Wednesday, Levandowksi was among dozens of individuals who received a full pardon from Trump on his last night in the White House.

The White House listed tech billionaire Peter Thiel and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey as supporters of Levandowski's pardon. Thiel was a major supporter and advisor for the 2016 campaign, but did not back Trump's reelection effort. Luckey hosted a fundraiser for Trump just weeks before the 2020 election.

Levandowski said in a tweet, "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."

In August, Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets. He transferred thousands of files from Google before leaving the company. He went on to found a start-up called Otto which was acquired by Uber.

Google's self-driving car unit Waymo then accused Uber of using those trade secrets in its driverless car technology, which Uber denied. In 2018, Uber and Waymo settled their legal dispute. But Levandowski, who was fired from Uber in 2017, had to face criminal charges.

The sentencing judge in Levandowski's case called it the "biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen."

Trump gave Levandowski a full pardon, calling him "an American entrepreneur who led Google's efforts to create self-driving technology."

"Mr. Levandowski pled guilty to a single criminal count arising from civil litigation. Notably, his sentencing judge called him a 'brilliant, groundbreaking engineer that our country needs.' Mr. Levandowski has paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good."

In March, Levandowski declared bankruptcy after a court said he had to pay $179 million to Google over his split with Waymo.