Former Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang on Monday pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets. The admission could get him as much as ten years in prison. CNBC reports Zhang was hired by Apple in December 2015 to work on Apple’s autonomous vehicle team, Project Titan.
Zhang was a member of the Compute Team, designing and testing circuit boards to analyze sensor data, Zhang had access to Apple’s secure and confidential internal databases.
Zhang left Apple for Chinese startup XMotors in April 2018. Shortly after, Apple discovered that Zhang had stolen Apple Car development data and hardware.
In July 2018, Zhang was charged with the theft of trade secrets by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was arrested when he attempted to leave the country. While Zhang had initially pleaded not guilty, this week he took a plea bargain, which is under seal by the U.S. government.
In addition to serving up to 10 years in prison, Zhang could be required to pay up to $250,000 in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for November 14.