Local General Motors engineer accused of perjury in ignition switch investigation, still employed

(WXYZ) - During the fierce Senate questioning Wednesday, the name of a local engineer who designed the Chevy Cobalt ignition switch emerged.

Ray DeGiorgio said several times in a deposition last year that he didn’t authorize a change that was made to the faulty ignition switches, but now he’s being accused of lying under oath.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) wants to know why General Motors CEO Mary Barra hasn’t fired DeGiorgio yet.

“I for the life of me can’t understand why he still has his job,” said McCaskill during Barra’s testimony in front of the U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance.

DeGiorgio is a 60-year-old General Motors Engineer from Commerce Township, who works at the automaker’s Warren Technical Center.

DeGiorgio’s work on the ignition switch for the 2005 Chevy Cobalt has put him in the glare of the national spotlight as GM scrambles to recall 2.6 million small cars.  The faulty ignition switches can cause the cars to suddenly shut off, and are now linked to at least 13 deaths.

Congressional investigators have grilled Barra about why changes were made to the switches, but they were kept under the same part number – a move that some now believe was done to keep the design flaws hidden.

Last April, DeGiorgio said under oath in a deposition that he wasn’t aware of design changes made to the switches after GM received reports of problems years ago -- yet Senator McCaskill on Wednesday revealed a document that shows DeGiorgio is the one who signed off on the change.

“So he has not been fired,” asked McCaskill.
“No he has not,” said Barra.
“Ok is he still working there everyday,” asked McCaskill.
“Yes,” said Barra.
“And you know that he lied under oath,” demanded McCaskill.
“The data that’s been put in front of me indicates that but I’m waiting for the full investigation,” said Barra.
“Ok, let me help you here.  He said several times he had no idea these changes had been made.  Here is a document that he signed, under his name, Mr. Ray DeGiorgio.  He signed it on April 26, 2006 approving of the change.  Now, it is hard for me to imagine you would want him anywhere near engineering anything at General Motors under these circumstances,” said McCaskill.

The deposition was from a lawsuit brought by the parents of a young woman who died in a Chevy Cobalt crash.

“The fact that there would be two identical parts and in other words, one is defective and one isn’t, and that you didn’t change the part number, strikes me as deception And I think it goes beyond unacceptable, I believe this is criminal,” said Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire).

7 Action News has called DeGiorgio, and tried to reach him at his home, but so far he has not commented on the recall or allegations that he lied under oath.  According to the deposition, DeGiorgio’s own son drives a Cobalt as well.