Former Volkwagen executive sentenced to 7 years in jail for emissions scandal

Posted at 4:51 PM, Dec 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-06 19:51:36-05

A federal judge in Detroit sentenced former Volkswagen AG executive Oliver Schmidt to seven years in prison and fined him $400,000 for his role in the company’s emissions scandal. 

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox handed down the sentence at the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit. No restitution was ordered. 

Schmidt, 48, who has been in custody since his arrest in Miami in January, will be given credit for the time he has served in prison.

He pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to defraud the United States and violating the Clean Air Act and faced a maximum possible sentence of seven years in prison and a fine ranging from $40,000 to $400,000. 

The judge sentenced Schmidt to five years in prison for the conspiracy count and a consecutive 24 months on the second count. 

In exchange for his plea, federal prosecutors dropped multiple counts of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Schmidt agreed to be deported to Germany after serving his sentence. Schmidt ran VW’s U.S. engineering and environmental office from 2012 through early 2015 and was responsible for obtaining regulatory approval for VW vehicles sold in the U.S. 

Schmidt’s lawyer. David DuMouchel of Detroit, asked for a maximum of 40 months in prison and $100,000 fine. 

He is one of eight people charged by U.S. authorities in the emissions scandal, which involved installing software in some 500,000 VW 2.0 liter diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. from 2009 through 2015 to make U.S. authorities believe that the vehicles met U.S. emissions standards. 

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. 

Six other VW employees remain at large. 

In March, Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to three felonies and agreed to pay a $2.8 billion criminal fine. The company also paid over $10 billion in civil settlements resulting from the fraud.