Volkswagen pleads guilty to diesel cheating, as if it had a choice

Tammy Harvey
July 27, 2017

James Liang, a former Volkswagen engineer, pleaded guilty previous year of helping devise a defeat device used to circumvent emission tests.

Schmidt is facing 11 separate felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, with a maximum sentence of 169 years in prison.

Schmidt, VW's former top emissions compliance official, will enter his plea in August. His lawyers disclosed the plan during a brief conference with a judge, spokesman David Ashenfelter said.

"I'm unable to comment on what the terms of the plea agreement might be", said Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for prosecutors. Schmidt is one of eight current and former executives charged in the USA emissions probe.

Schmidt, who was the head of Volkswagen's environmental and engineering center in MI, has been charged with 11 felony counts and could face a maximum of up to 169 years in prison.

A message seeking comment was left for Schmidt's lawyer.

Automotive News reports that a total of more than 4.3 million documents covering more than 40 million pages have been filed regarding the Volkswagen scheme, easily becoming one of the largest criminal cases in recent years.

Mr. Schmidt's cooperation would be a coup for the Justice Department's case against Volkswagen. In the US alone, legal settlements could cost Volkswagen more than $25 billion depending on how many vehicles the auto maker ends up repurchasing to compensate consumers.

Earlier in July, the Justice Department charged former Audi manager Giovanni Pamio with directing employees to design software enabling thousands of Audi diesel cars to beat US emissions tests. It is unclear to which charges he will plead guilty. The former VW head has been detained since his arrest earlier in 2017, putting him on the line for his final hearing on early next month.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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