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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 19, 2020

Former Uber Self-Driving Car Executive Signs Agreement To Plead Guilty To Theft Of Trade Secrets From Google

SAN JOSE - Anthony Scott Levandowski submitted documents today requesting that the court accept his plea of guilty to theft of trade secrets charges, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The documents include a request to William H. Alsup, United States District Judge, to accept a proposed plea agreement and a request to schedule a date for a sentencing hearing.

Levandowski, 40, of Marin County, worked in Google’s self-driving car program for approximately seven years.  According to the proposed plea agreement, Levandowski acknowledged that during this time, he was aware his employment agreement required that he keep Google’s valuable non-public information confidential.  He also knew that the non-public information related to Project Chauffeur was sensitive and subject to the confidentiality requirement.  Nevertheless, while Levandowski was considering leaving Google, and prior to his departure in 2016, he obtained and stored thousands of files.  Specifically, on December 11, 2015, Levandowski downloaded approximately 14,000 files from an internal, password-protected Google server known as “SVN,” which was hosted on Google’s network. Then, on or about December 14, 2015, he transferred those SVN files from his Google-issued laptop to his personal laptop.  In addition, prior to his departure from Google, he downloaded a variety of files from a corporate Google Drive repository to his personal laptop.  Levandowski has admitted that he intended to use the Google Drive files for his personal benefit. 

Within months after Levandowski’s departure from Google, he created a new company that was then purchased by Uber.  Levandowski admitted that while he was working for Google, he downloaded at least 20 files from Google Drive.  Among the files downloaded between October 2015 and January 2016, was an internal tracking document entitled “Chauffeur TL weekly updates – Q4 2015.”  The update contained a variety of details regarding the status of Google’s self-driving car program.  Levandowski admitted he downloaded the file with the intent to use it for the benefit of himself and Uber and that he accessed the document after his resignation from Google.  Levandowski acknowledged that the document qualified as a trade secret.  In sum, Levandowski admitted a reasonable estimate of the loss attributed to his conduct is up to $1,500,000. 

A federal grand jury indicted Lewandowski on August 15, 2019, charging him with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832. If the court accepts the plea agreement, Levandowski will plead guilty to one count and the Court will dismiss the remaining counts at sentencing. 

Should the court accept his plea, Levandowski will face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. 

The prosecution is being handled by the Office of the U.S. Attorney, Northern District of California’s Corporate Fraud Strike Force and is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Topic(s): 
Intellectual Property
Updated March 20, 2020