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Former Apple engineer accepts plea deal, pleads guilty to stealing trade secrets

A former Apple employee charged with stealing trade secrets relating to the company's secretive Apple Car project has pleaded guilty in federal court.

In 2018, Xiaolang Zhang initially entered a plea of not guilty after it was discovered that he'd downloaded a 25-page schematic of a circuit board designed for use in an autonomous vehicle.

Now, Zhang has pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday, according to CNBC.

The details of Zhang's plea agreement with the U.S. government aren't public, but he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in November.

Zhang was a member of Apple's "Project Titan" team and was responsible for designing and testing circuit boards that analyze data from various vehicle sensors.

As such parts are a critical component in an autonomous vehicle's infrastructure, Zhang was granted access to databases containing trade secrets and sensitive intellectual property.

After it was discovered that he'd downloaded documents and information from company servers, he was arrested at the San Jose International Airport. Zhang was attempting to board a flight to Beijing.