A former manager with Volkswagen was sentenced to 84 months in prison for his role in a near decade long fuel emission scheme affecting more than 500,000 diesel vehicles.
U.S. District Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan sentenced Oliver Schmidt to pay $400,000 in fines and several years in prison for his role in the scandal. He pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to defraud the government, wire fraud, violating the Clean Air Act.
“Oliver Schmidt cheated the American people, and today’s sentencing shows that such behavior will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jean Williams said in a press statement Wednesday following the decision.
“The Department of Justice and its partner agencies will continue to work together to ensure a level playing field for all competitors and a cleaner environment for all Americans,” Williams said of the investigation into the scandal, that has taken down several of VW’s top brass.
VW engineer James Liang, for instance, was sentenced earlier this year to 40 months in prison for helping the German automaker cheat U.S. emissions tests. Liang was the first person prosecuted in the scandal.
Liang and Schmidt are among eight executives criminally charged for their alleged roles in the scheme.
The company was sentenced in April to three years of probation for engaging in the nearly 10-year long scheme. VW must also undergo scrutiny from an independent regulator as part of a $4.3 billion settlement announced in January, as well as pay down a $2.8 billion criminal fine.
Schmidt told the court earlier this month that company executives directed him to lie about diesel emissions in a meeting with regulators two years ago.
“Regrettably, I agreed to follow it,” he wrote in a letter to Cox. “I should have gone to that meeting, ignored the instructions given to me” and admitted “there was a defeat device in VW diesel engine vehicles and that VW had been cheating for almost a decade.”
Schmidt admitted during the trial that he knew the VW “clean diesel” vehicles were being promoted for their increased fuel economy while complying with U.S. environmental regulations.
VW’s diesel vehicles were affixed with a so-called cheat device to avoid U.S. standards and regulations and that these representations made to domestic customers were false, he admitted knowing.
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