Today, Volkswagen’s former head of U.S. regulatory compliance, Oliver Schmidt, pleaded guilty for playing a key role in the Dieselgate emissions scandal. We knew the 48 year-old German native would take a plea deal, but now, thanks to Reuters, we know the approximate damage.
Schmidt pleaded guilty today to a single count of “conspiracy to defraud the U.S., to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act,” and also to one count of violating the Clean Air Act.
His plea involved spilling the beans on his involvement in the scandal. The Department of Justice says Schmidt admitted to meeting with other VW employees to devise a way to carefully answer the California Air Resources Board’s questions about VW TDI emissions discrepancies. The aim, there, was to convince CARB to approve the sale of vehicles Schmidt knew utilized a defeat device to circumvent regulations.
Schmidt’s plea also involved him admitting knowledge of two reports sent from VW to the Environmental Protection Agency that were “fraudulent and misleading,” and he professed that he was aware that VW’s “Clean Diesel” marketing campaign was all a bunch of bogus.
Though, upon his arrest in Florida, Schmidt faced 11 felony charges and up to 169 years in prison, Reuters reports that the plea agreement will put Schmidt behind bars for up to seven years, cost him between $40,000 and $400,000 in fines, and require him to be deported after serving his time.
Jean E. Williams, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division Deputy said her organization isn’t playing around with sentencing violators of clean air laws, saying:
Schmidt participated in a fraudulent VW scam that prioritized corporate sales at the expense of the honesty of emissions tests and trust of the American purchasers...Schmidt along with each and every official involved in this emissions scandal will be held fully accountable for their actions by the Department of Justice as this investigation continues.
Schmidt was indicted earlier this year along with five of his peers. He now joins VW Engineer James Robert Liang and a South Korean VW exec by the name of Yun in the club of VW employees staring down the barrel of multi-month prison sentences.
We’ll know the full extent of Schmidt’s punishment when Judge Sean F. Cox of the Eastern District of Michigan sentences him on December 6. Until then, watch the pre-dieselgate video above of Oliver Schmidt discussing his role at Volkswagen, and actually providing quite a lot of insight into the world of fuel economy certification.