VW Executive Gets 7 Years In Prison In Emissions Cheating Scandal

VW Executive Gets 7 Years In Prison In Emissions Cheating Scandal

A federal judge in MI has sentenced a former high-level Volkswagen manager to seven years in prison for his part in the scheme to cheat emissions tests and defraud consumers.

He pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to defraud the United States and violating the Clean Air Act and faced a maximum possible sentence of seven years in prison and a fine ranging from $40,000 to $400,000.

Oliver Schmidt, 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sean Cox and also received a fine of $400,000.

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German citizen Oliver Schmidt was sentenced on Wednesday.

In exchange for his plea, federal prosecutors dropped multiple counts of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Schmidt has agreed to be deported back to Germany after his sentenced is completed.

Judge Cox earlier this year sentenced Volkswagen Engineer James Liang to 40-months in prison.

VW admitted in 2015 to equipping about 11 million cars worldwide with defeat devices, including about 600,000 vehicles in the United States, which allowed them to deceive emissions tests but emit up to 40 times the permissible levels of harmful nitrogen oxide during actual driving.

He is the highest-ranking VW employee to be convicted in the scheme in the USA and the chances that the U.S. authorities will prosecute more senior VW executives are slim as most are in Germany, which is unlikely to extradite its citizens to stand trial in the US.

Former Audi executive Giovanni Pamio also remains at large. As VW Group rolled out its massive "clean diesel" marketing campaign appealing to environmentally conscious auto buyers, those same cars were actually emitting nitrogen oxide (NOx) many times in excess of the legal limit.

Schmidt traveled to the USA as the scandal was breaking on a mission to lie to U.S. and Californian authorities so Volkswagen could obtain regulatory approvals to sell 2016 model year diesel vehicles in the United States, according to prosecutors.

Although the initial stages of the scheme to goose emissions numbers started as early as 2004 at Audi, Schmidt and his lawyers assert that the executive only found out about the software in the summer of 2015, a few months before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made public VW Group's violation.

"The defendant has a leadership role within VW", federal officials said.

The scandal has cost Volkswagen billions of dollars in fines and settlements.