Former Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt, who has pled guilty to criminal charges that he conspired to cover up the automaker's diesel emissions cheating scandal, was sentenced Wednesday to seven years in prison by a MI federal judge.
"I'm sure, based upon common sense, that you viewed this cover-up as an opportunity to shine - to climb the corporate ladder at VW", U.S. District Judge Sean Cox said.
The prison sentence and $400,000 USA fine for Schmidt were the maximum possible under a plea deal in August the German national made with prosecutors after admitting to charges of conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and violate clean-air laws.
The judge called Schmidt, who had led VW's engineering and environmental office in MI for three years, a "key conspirator" in the deception.
Schmidt read a written statement in court acknowledging his guilt and broke down when discussing his family's sacrifices on his behalf since his arrest in January.
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Last week, Schmidt's attorneys made a last-minute bid requesting a lighter sentence for Schmidt: 40 months of supervised release and a $100,000 fine. Six others at VW or Audi were charged, but they are in Germany and out of reach of USA authorities.
The company was forced to pay a $4.8 billion fine including a $2.8 criminal fine and a $1.5 billion civil fine.
"Every time he chose to lie", Singer said.
Former Audi executive Giovanni Pamio also remains at large.
Volkswagen rebounded from the scandal during the past year. Schmidt said he first learned about the company's scheme in the summer of 2015, at the tail-end of the conspiracy.
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At the Los Angeles auto show last week, the head of Volkswagen's United States operations declared, "we're back", citing improved USA vehicle sales.
VW auto engineer James Liang was sentenced in August to 40 months in prison and fined $200,000 for his role in the scandal - four months more than prosecutors recommended.
Schmidt's plea deal stated that the former executive could face up to seven years in prison and between $40,000 and $400,000 in fines. Schmidt ran VW's US engineering and environmental office from 2012 through early 2015 and was responsible for obtaining regulatory approval for VW vehicles sold in the U.S.
Regulators in the United States and Europe are investigating other automakers for potential violations of diesel emissions rules. These allowed vehicles to cheat pollution tests.
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