The Department of Justice on Tuesday indicted former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski on 33 charges of theft. Levandowski is suspected of stealing self-driving car secrets from the company for his own startup and faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. 

Levandowski, 39, worked for Google's self-driving car project, now known as Waymo, but then left the company in 2016 to launch his own self-driving truck startup called Otto. His startup was later sold to Uber that same year for $680 million. 

The star engineer allegedly stole files related to Google's Light Detecting and Ranging technology (LiDAR) outfit before he left the company. Levandowski used to be the head of the LiDAR team. 

The San Francisco field office for the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating Levandowski since May 2017.  A lawsuit that year claimed by Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. alleged Uber was stealing the company's self-driving technology.

The case was settled in Feb. 2018, with Uber promising not to use any of the Waymo's self-driving technology. Uber also gave an equivalent of $245 million in equity to Alphabet.  

"All of us have the right to change jobs." U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson said Tuesday. "None of us have the right to fill our pockets on our way out of the door. Theft is not innovation." 

Levandowski's lawyers say that "The downloads at issue occurred while Levandowski was still working at Google – and he and his team were authorized to use the information. None of these supposed files ever went to Uber or any other company."

They also claim that Tuesday's indictment rehashes the 2017 Uber-Alphabet case. 

"Anthony is innocent and we look forward to proving it through trial," Levandowski's lawyers added. 

Google began its secret self-driving car project in 2009. By 2013, General Motors, Ford and Mercedes Benz also started self-driving initiatives.