Trump pardons self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski

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WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he had pardoned a former Google engineer convicted of stealing a trade secret about self-driving cars months before briefly directing Uber’s rival unit.

Anthony Levandowski, 40, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in August after pleading guilty in March. He was not in custody, but a federal judge had said he could go into custody once the COVID-19 pandemic cleared.

The White House said Levandowski had “paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to furthering the common good.”

Alphabet’s Waymo, a self-driving car technology unit spawned from Google, declined to comment. The company previously described Levandowski’s crime as “treason” and its verdict “a victory for trade secrets.”

The pardon was backed by several technology industry leaders who have backed Trump, including investors Peter Thiel and Blake Masters and entrepreneur Palmer Luckey, the White House said.

Levandowski transferred more than 14,000 Google files, including development schedules and product designs, to his personal laptop before leaving, while negotiating a new role with Uber.

Levandowski filed for bankruptcy in March last year to negotiate his debts after a California court confirmed that Levandowski owes Google $ 179 million for breaching employment contracts. When he passed a plea deal, also in March, he agreed to nearly $ 756,500 in restitution to cover costs, Alphabet has backed the government’s investigation, court documents said.

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Uber indemnifies its employees, but has said it planned to pay the grand judgment on behalf of its ex-employee.

It was unclear what effect Trump’s pardon might have on Levandowski’s financial obligations.

Other notable names on Trump’s pardons list:

STEVE BANNON: Bannon, 67, was a key adviser in Trump’s 2016 presidential run. Last year, he was accused of defrauding Trump supporters for attempting to raise private funds to destroy the president’s wall at the border between the US and Mexico to be built. He pleaded not guilty.

White House officials had advised against Trump to pardon Bannon, who left the Trump administration in late 2017. The two men recently revived their relationship as Trump sought support for his unproven allegations of voter fraud, an official familiar with the situation said.

ELLIOTT BROIDY: Broidy, a major Republican Party fundraiser, pleaded guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent in October and admitted to accepting money to secretly lobby the Trump administration for Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Broidy held finance positions on Trump’s 2016 campaign and on his inaugural committee.

Prosecutors alleged that Broidy had received millions of dollars in payments from an unnamed foreign citizen to try to end a US investigation into billions of dollars embezzled by 1MDB, a Malaysian government investment fund.

KWAME KILPATRICK: The former Detroit mayor was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 2013 after his conviction on two dozen charges, including extortion, bribery and extortion of a conspiracy that prosecutors say had exacerbated the city’s financial crisis.

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Kilpatrick, 50, once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, received one of the longest corruption sentences ever against a great American politician.

Kilpatrick, who was mayor from 2002 to 2008, extorted bribes from contractors seeking to get or keep city contracts in Detroit, prosecutors said.

LIL WAYNE: Lil Wayne, 38, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, pleaded guilty to the illegal possession of a firearm in federal court in December and was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. He was due to be sentenced in Florida in March.

A year earlier, the Grammy winner was found with a loaded, gold-plated .45-caliber pistol in his luggage aboard a private jet that had landed at an executive airport near Miami. A previous felony conviction made it illegal for the rapper to have the weapon or ammunition.

On Oct. 29, Wayne tweeted a photo of himself with Trump after what he called a “great meeting” with the president.

RAPPER KODAK BLACK: Black, 23, born Bill Kahan Kapri, is in federal prison for making a false statement to buy a firearm, and released the album “Bill Israel” behind bars.

Black pleaded guilty in August 2019 and was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison three months later. He seeks compassionate salvation.

In a now-deleted tweet in November, Black pledged to spend $ 1 million in charity if the president released him, hip-hop magazine XXL reported.

SHOLAM WEISS: Weiss was convicted of paying $ 125 million from the National Heritage Life Insurance Co and its older policyholders. He fled the United States and was sentenced in absentia to 845 years in prison in 2000, but was eventually extradited from Austria.

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Weiss, 66, is in a U.S. penitentiary in Pennsylvania, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Trump attorneys from his initial impeachment, Alan Dershowitz and Jay Sekulow, sent letters to the White House in support of Weiss.