The Uber executive at the center of a lawsuit between the ride-hailing service and Google’s Waymo self-driving division, could face criminal charges.
Speaking to The New York Times, the lawyers for Anthony Levandowski say that he will exercise his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination due to the potential of criminal action in the case.
Levandowski was formerly the head of Google’s self-driving car project and is accused of stealing documents and trade secrets when he left Google. Levandowski ultimately formed self-driving truck start-up Otto which was sold to Uber for $680 million a mere six months later.
According to Waymo, Levandowski downloaded over 14,000 documents about the company’s driverless car program and colluded with Uber to use this technology.
One of the lawyers representing Levandowski, Miles Ehrlich says his decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right will protect against “compelled disclosure that would identify the existence, location or possession of any responsive documents.”
According to a law professor from Rutgers University, Michael Carrier, Levandowski pleading the Fifth Amendment could be a PR disaster for Uber.
“The more we get into this, it might look like a public relations disaster for Uber. The mere fact that you’re pleading the Fifth doesn’t look good,” he said.