July 29, 2020 / 8:07 AM / 7 days ago

U.S. prosecutors seek 27 months imprisonment for former Uber self-driving head

FILE PHOTO: Former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski leaves the federal court after his arraignment hearing in San Jose, California, U.S. August 27, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors are seeking 27 months of imprisonment for the former head of Uber’s self-driving technology unit, Anthony Levandowski, who agreed to plead guilty in March for taking sensitive documents from his former employer Google before joining Uber.

Federal prosecutors are also seeking three years of supervised release and an agreed-upon restitution payment of nearly $756,500 to Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car company Waymo, according to the court papers filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of California.

Levandowski’s attorneys have asked for 12 months of home confinement for him, with an obligation to perform community service, and a $95,000 fine, the court papers added.

“It is, unfortunately, no exaggeration to say that a prison sentence today can amount to the imposition of a serious health crisis, even a death sentence, given the BOP’s (Federal Bureau of Prisons) current inability to control the spread of the coronavirus,” Levandowski’s attorneys wrote.

The case stemmed from accusations by Google and its sister company Waymo in 2017 that Uber jump-started its own self-driving car development with trade secrets and staff that Levandowski unlawfully took from Google.

Uber issued company stock to Alphabet and revised its software to settle the case, and the Department of Justice later announced a 33-count criminal indictment against Levandowski.

Levandowski filed for bankruptcy protection in March, shortly after a court confirmed that he must pay $179 million to Google to end a legal battle over his split from the Alphabet Inc unit.

Reporting by Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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