Anthony Levandowski, a UC Berkeley alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering and operations research, was granted a full pardon by former president Donald Trump for trade secret theft.
Levandowski co-founded Waymo, Google’s self-driving car program, in 2009. In 2016, he left Waymo and co-founded Otto, a self-driving truck service, which he sold to Uber.
Levandowski was involved in a lawsuit in February 2017, in which Waymo alleged that he stole 14,000 files of highly confidential information for Otto and Uber, therefore infringing upon fair competition.
In August 2020, Levandowski pleaded guilty to one of 33 charges and was sentenced to 18 months in jail, according to a press release from the Department of Justice, or DOJ. Due to COVID-19 risks, his sentence was delayed and he never served time.
The announcement of Levandowski’s pardon from former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany stated that he “paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good.”
Waymo spokesperson Nicholas Smith declined to comment.
“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,” Levandowski said in a tweet Wednesday.
Thirteen supporters of the pardon were named in the announcement.
Among those listed as supporters were Ken Goldberg, campus electrical engineering and computer sciences professor; Amy Craig, UC Berkeley School of Law lecturer; and Ryan Petersen, UC Berkeley alumnus — all of whom could not be reached for comment as of press time. Berkeley-based lawyer Miles Ehrlich, who represented Levandowski and was a supporter of the pardon, declined to comment.
According to the DOJ press release, U.S. District Judge William Alsup called Levandowski’s actions “the biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen” during sentencing. Alsup also referred to Levandowski as a “brilliant, groundbreaking engineer that our country needs,” according to the White House announcement.
On Trump’s last day in office, 73 individuals were granted pardons, and 70 additional individuals had their sentences commuted, the announcement added.