Volkswagen executive jailed for seven years for role in diesel scandal

VW Executive Gets 7 Years In Prison In Emissions Cheating Scandal

A Volkswagen manager was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and will pay a $400,000 fine for participating in the German auto giant's emissions fraud, the second employee to face time behind bars in the USA for his role in the longstanding conspiracy to deceive government officials and customers. That's the sentence that prosecutors recommended.

Oliver Schmidt ― a German native who worked in the Volkswagen's top emissions compliance manager ― had pleaded guilty in August to two charges in the case of Volkswagen altering its diesel cars to evade US emission standards, reported The Detroit News. Schmidt was also ordered to pay a criminal penalty of $400,000, according to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) press release.

Oliver Schmidt will be sentenced Wednesday in Detroit federal court.

Defense lawyers had sought a sentence of only 40 months and a $100,000 fine, saying Schmidt's participation in the conspiracy had not occurred until nine years after it began and that he had expressed remorse.

"Schmidt sent detailed updates to VW management in Germany apprising them of precisely what he had said, and making it obvious that he was following the script of deception and deceit that VW, with Schmidt's input, had chosen", prosecutors told the court last month.

Schmidt agreed to be deported to Germany after serving his sentence.

Five other VW employees remain at large.

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 hid the software tricks from California regulators and gave up phony explanations for differences in emissions, prosecutors contended. 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.

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

Schmidt, former senior manager of Volkswagen's US Environment and Engineering Office, downplayed his role in the scheme in court papers filed last week asking Judge Cox to limit his sentence. According to the January 2017 complaint against Schmidt, the executive "offered technical reasons and excuses such as "irregularities" or "abnormalities" for the discrepancy without revealing the fundamental reason for the higher NOx measurements on the road: software intentionally installed in VW vehicles so the vehicles could detect and evade emissions testing".