Volkswagen Exec Gets Max Sentence in Diesel Scandal Trial

But he will get credit for time served

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After being arrested earlier this year, Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt plead guilty this August to two charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating the Clean Air Act. At the time, he faced up to seven years in prison and a fine between $40,000 and $400,000. Yesterday, Schmidt received both the maximum possible sentence and the maximum possible fine.

Automotive News reports that on Wednesday, a federal judge sentenced Schmidt to seven years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $400,000. Schmidt will be allowed to stay in the same federal penitentiary he has been in since March, and he’ll also get credit for the 11 months he has already served.

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In pre-sentence filings, Schmidt’s lawyer requested 40 months of supervised release and only a $100,000 fine, arguing that his client had only followed orders to cover up the scandal. “Mr. Schmidt was asked, at the very end, to conceal from regulators the existence of the defeat device. And he did it,” the lawyer said before adding that Schmidt now wishes he hadn’t.

The prosecution, however, argued that Schmidt was a key part of Volkswagen’s attempts to keep the emissions cheating software hidden from regulators. “He was in the room, and every time he was in the room, he chose to lie. And that’s how this crime happened,” said attorney Ben Singer, the federal prosecutor.

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In the end, U.S. District Judge Sean Cox sided with the prosecution, leaving Schmidt with some harsh words. “In my opinion … you are a key conspirator responsible for the cover-up in the United States of this massive fraud perpetrated on the people of the United States,” said Cox. “You knowingly misled and lied to government officials. You actively participated in the destruction of evidence. You saw this massive cover-up as an opportunity … to advance your career at VW. This conspiracy, which you were a key part of, in particular, the cover-up, is a very troubling crime against our economic system. It attacks and destroys the very foundation of our economic system, the trust by the buyer of our economic system.”

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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