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]