A former Google engineer has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets before joining Uber’s effort to build robotic vehicles for its ride-hailing service.
The sentence handed down Tuesday by US District Judge William Alsup came more than four months after former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski reached a plea agreement with the federal prosecutors who brought a criminal case against him last August.
Levandowski, who helped steer Google’s self-driving car project before landing at Uber, was also ordered to pay more than $850,000.
Alsup had taken the unusual step of recommending the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into Levandowski while presiding over a high-profile civil trial between Uber and Waymo, a spinoff from a self-driving car project that Google began in 2007 after hiring Levandowski to be part of its team.
Levandowski eventually became disillusioned with Google and left the company in early 2016 to start his own self-driving truck company, called Otto, which Uber eventually bought for $680 million.