By on March 16, 2017

Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Suspecting that a Volkswagen executive might fly the coop if released on bond while awaiting trial, a U.S. District Court judge slammed the cell door shut until early next year.

Oliver Schmidt, who was arrested early this year during a stopover in Miami, is currently cooling his heels in a Detroit jail after being slapped with conspiracy and fraud charges relating to the diesel emissions scandal. With a potential jail sentence of 169 years looming over his head, even $1.6 million ponied up by family and friends wasn’t enough to secure his release.

Were Schmidt to find his way back home to Germany, a potential sentence handed down by a German court wouldn’t top 10 years. As such, Judge Sean Cox deemed the German national a high flight risk.

“I do appreciate the situation Mr. Schmidt finds himself in. But this is a very, very serious case. The allegations of fraud and conspiracy in this case are very, very serious,” Cox said after yesterday’s bond hearing. He added that the court felt there was “no condition or combination of conditions” that would guarantee Schmidt showed up for trial.

Schmidt served as Volkswagen’s top emissions compliance executive in Auburn Hills, Michigan, from 2012 until just before the scandal went public. He returned home to Germany in early 2015. That’s where he’d be now had it not been for a risky winter vacation to Cuba.

Five other former or current VW executives were indicted for their alleged involvement in a decade-long conspiracy to defraud U.S. diesel buyers and fool the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as other regulators. Unlike Schmidt, however, those players remain in safely in Germany, outside of the reach of U.S. authorities.

Thursday brought more than just one piece of bad news for Schmidt. Not only does he have to stay in the slammer until his trial, but that trial won’t happen anytime soon. Originally scheduled for next month, the trial has now been postponed to January of next year.

[Source: Automotive News]

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36 Comments on “A Detroit Jail Will Remain Home Sweet Home for Nabbed VW Exec...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    A Detroit jail – has he learned all about direct injection?

  • avatar
    jmo

    A trial? Why doesn’t he just plea out?

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      He will give it time. When was the last time you heard somebody not taking a deal the feds offered? They just haven’t applied the right kind or enough presure yet.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    There should be no mercy shown to corporate VW, but this seems cruel and unusual punishment for a man who hasn’t yet been convicted of a crime, let alone a violent one.

    Most of Detroit’s local derelicts spring jail before this guy will, and that just seems wrong.

    Perhaps the trial date has moved because his lawyers want to mount a ‘vigorous defense’, but a 9-month delay is excessive.

    • 0 avatar
      northeaster

      I would suggest that there are a great number of people who find “law as deterrence” OK for petty criminals or shoplifters, but have a tendency to ignore violations running into the hundreds of millions or billions as a matter of less consequence. That seems a little unfair, too.

      If the execs don’t do a perp walk, do the engineers or janitors?

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    This is overkill. He’s not an axe murderer, even threatening him with 169 years is an injustice. The interests of justice are served on worse offenders than him with surrendering the passport and maybe an ankle monitor if you really feel it necessary. The feds have gotten their pound of flesh from corporate; singling this guy out serves no purpose.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @jpolicke
      Raises the whole issue of individual versus Corporate responsibility .,Does a CEO of a Corporation, that has a massive loss but gets awarded a huge bonus, get charged for fraud?

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    He made an unadvisable trip. I guess he thought he could just go through the Miami airport without immigration noticing his passport. Reminds me of the CIA agent who was convicted in Italy for an extraordinary rendition who flew to Spain despite being warned by colleagues she would be arrested. Is flying to a second rate vacation spot worth the risk?

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Why not talk T-Rump into letting someone else take the blame if an extraordinary rendition of the other indicted execs doesn’t work out?

  • avatar
    th009

    The judge actually approved his transfer to Milan low-security federal prison, which I suspect will be a significant improvement over Wayne County Jail.

  • avatar
    zip94513

    Witch hunt and total BS. I hope he sues and wins $20B for unlawful detainment.

  • avatar
    TW5

    The scandal was disgusting, but the inconspicuous execution of justice is perhaps worse. These VW executives are guilty of gaming a government system that is used as the lynch pin of an unnecessarily poor fuel economy regime. Furthermore, the “victims” in this crime are established by way of a fraudulent branch of science known as anthropogenic global warming.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      This is about local air pollution: smog-forming chemicals. Nothing to do with fuel economy or carbon emissions.

      But I don’t think this guy is much of a threat to anyone. Surely adequate punishment could be inflicted in a solely financial manner.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Going to disagree on the punishment. He is accused of being part of a fraud that the relevant experts say has resulted in deaths that would not otherwise have happened. When people die as a result of your criminal activities, that’s not something that should result in a fine.

        And to the VW apologists: If you’re not getting paid to spout the same tired spiel at every related story, you’re sad. If you are paid, I’m sad.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          There should be high-ranking General Motors executives, including Mary Barra herself, in jail without bond, with imminent prosecution pending, over the defective ignition run cylinder equipped, death-causing GM vehicles, that were known to be fatally-defective for at least 11 years, and in response to which GM executives tried to substitute a new part, stamped with the same part number, without reporting it to authorities, regulatory agencies, their consumers, and many others.

          There should also be Takata executives, including its CEO, similarly situated.

          The bald-faced hypocrisy in the treatment of VW executives compared to GM, Takata and many other companies’ executives by the U.S. “justice system” is criminal in and of itself.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            This I 100% agree with. The VW execs deserve punishment, but both cases of GM and Takata should have life sentences handed out. The engineer who knowingly violated all internal and external standards at the very minimum needs to be held accountable for x many counts of manslaughter.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          He may have participated in the fraud, granted. However he was neither the instigator nor one of the major developers, just the front man in this country that made the statements promoting it. So while he’s hardly blameless the potential sentence shocks the conscience. Punishment is supposed to fit the crime, not to make exciting headlines.

          You can look up the list of people that were killed by GM ignition switches and Takata airbags. I challenge anyone to get me the name of a single person that died or had their lifespan shortened by an hour as a direct result of an unquantifiable amount of excess NOX emitted by a cheating diesel. It is a theoretical harm, like saying that because I walked past your open window while smoking a cigarette I gave your kid asthma.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            would you like to filter through the lists of big city asthma deaths and pick which ones were due to the VW emissions over the limit and which weren’t? I know that’s not how it works, but the increase in deaths is still real and had this fraud as a cause. Just because it’s complicated doesn’t make it OK.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Why would anybody that is severely bothered by air pollution be living in a congested urban area, regardless of the presence of modern VW diesels?

            I’m not buying that the small increase in NOx and smog that these vehicles created is responsible for a significant reduction in the lifespan of anyone. They were not big sellers and they are far from being among the most heavily-polluting combustion engines in any city.

    • 0 avatar
      Vega

      ‘ fraudulent branch of science known as anthropogenic global warming.’

      The US is lost beyond any hope. Comments like this, intelligent design… Next step is witchburning. Not the first time in history humanity lost centuries of knowledge to superstition.

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        “The US is lost beyond any hope.”

        Yabbut you guys are going dhimmi so six of one, half-dozen of another.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        It is hard not replying with some insult, but TW5 just insulted his or her own intelligence.

        TW5, do you even science, bro?

        WTF were these idiots doing during chemistry class? Do they understand wtf is getting emitted out of their diesel engine’s tailpipe? I think the only real solution to the population problem is to jam these idiots inside of a closed chamber and mix in NOx in the atmosphere with some sunlight, maybe make it rain to speed up the process. Don’t let them out. They can use all the big words they learned from their puppet masters while they die of photochemical smog.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          @Tres

          I know NOX is a particulate matter that is generally regarded as one of the worst pollutants. I’m also aware of how little NOX comes from diesel automobiles compared with heavy duty off highway equipment, generators, etc.

          This is the prosecution of a silly political moral system, not a fundamental matter of law. Furthermore, the only legal issues at all are related to bad policy that need not be implemented in the first place. No, I’m not advocating exhaust pipes billowing black smoke, I’m saying this is yet another consequence of our awful fuel economy regime.

          You aren’t aware of it because you’re conditioned to accept it.

  • avatar
    johnnyz

    It is the brass at the EPA that belong in jail. By imposing unrealistic and unattainable standards, our criminal government has created a so-called criminal corporate class.

    Much like the DEA, the EPA does the opposite of what the public wants. We pay the fare and are punished with arbitrary rules and regulations. Someday those useless and worthless government officials will get what they deserve!

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Vee hadt no choiss!

      Which historically translated to “Not kennt kein Gebot” but anyone who exculpates VW is probably too wet-lipped to get that.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Hey johnnyz. I’m part of the public, pay taxes, and served my nation. You are not accurately stating my beliefs, so please stop pretending to speak for me. I’ll let the rest of the public decide for themselves whether or not you can speak for them; I stand on my own feet.

      • 0 avatar
        johnnyz

        Thank you for your service. Sadly most “service” is useless foreign wars the serve us not.

        Until American realize that big government including Trump are the enemy, they will remain enslaved.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      “It is the brass at the EPA that belong in jail. By imposing unrealistic and unattainable standards, our criminal government has created a so-called criminal corporate class.”

      What a bunch of nonsense. You mean the unrealistic and unattainable standards that other companies have met? The EPA in your eyes may do the opposite of what the public wants, but I personally like a cleaner environment. And no, I’m not an EPA apologist. I often disagree with what they do. But I more often agree with their results.

      • 0 avatar
        johnnyz

        FCA is having problems meeting the standards. This punishment by government lackeys is not over. More heads will roll.

        Furthermore, for some reason- probably special interests. Diesel is considered undesirable and punished accordingly. CAFE and EPA are arbitrary frauds. The public will make good choices without our Federal overlords deciding for us.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      I do not think “arbitrary” means what you think it means. Environmental regulations have a real impact. Everybody thinks California is overboard with their regulations, but look at LA’s air quality today versus the 1970s. Sometimes you have to put down the cheeseburger and eat some veggies.

      I wholeheartedly support putting VW executives in jail for their actions. Also, shouldn’t we be upset at financial damages done to companies who were doing the right thing, followed emissions rules, but lost sales to VW?

      • 0 avatar
        johnnyz

        It is arbitrary that the EPA prefers gasoline to diesel. Inconsistent regulations from both sides of the pond require different technologies and ultimately more cost to we the consumers.

        I’m sure the VW middle management was caught between corporate sales goals and EPA regulations. Let the little guy suffer, business as usual.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Requiring that diesel engines meet the same emission standards as gasoline engines isn’t favoritism, it’s common sense. Gasoline engines that can meet those standards are simply more suitable for urban environments than diesel engines that cannot.

          It is other countries that have been favoring diesel through their fuel taxation programs, and their air quality has suffered as a result.

          You may not consider air quality to be as important as the right to drive any vehicle of your choosing, but I suspect you’re in the minority.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Whodda thought it’d be harder to get “oil burners” to run clean?? The EPA had been lax on diesel “emissions” for decades, so it’s just time for them to pay up. -.


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