By on April 21, 2017

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While it wasn’t quite on par with the drama of a mob trail, the criminal case of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal possesses a lot of similarities. A break in the case, police raids, a powerful family, an unwillingness to cooperate with authorities, and an informant that made it all possible. But just who was the Henry Hill to Volkswagen’s Lucchese crime family?

According to a new book on the subject, written by New York Times reporter Jack Ewing, VW’s Engineering and Environmental Office head Stuart Johnson was the primary contact for the United States’ regulatory agencies. Johnson was on the front lines of the scandal and was among the first managers the EPA publicly reached out to in September of 2015, but it seems that may have been a ploy not to blow his cover — he had already spoken to the California Air Resources Board a month earlier. 

“You get the feeling from reading the documents that Johnson always felt queasy about the whole situation,” Ewing told Automotive News in an interview.

In the book, CARB deputy executive director Alberto Ayala confirms Johnson as the first person to reveal to the regulator the existence of VW’s “defeat device” software. Volkswagen and the Air Resources Board had scheduled a conference for August 21st of that year, though the two men had met several days prior. At the time, Johnson made clear that his disclosure was in direct violation of orders he had been given by his superiors.

The indictment of six Volkswagen executives only refers to Johnson as “Cooperating Witness 1” and states that he “has agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation in exchange for an agreement that the government will not prosecute CW1 in the United States.” There was also a second witness, unnamed in both the court documents and Ewing’s book.

Johnson, an American citizen working out of the automaker’s Auburn Hills office, was heavily involved in attempting to certify the rigged diesel vehicles. But, as dictated by the terms of his court agreement, he has not been charged with any criminal activity. However, several of his VW colleagues have not been so fortunate.

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10 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Diesel Whistleblower Identified in New Book...”


  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    For long before this scandal, I have sensed from reading articles in the business and automotive press about VW, that at it’s core, VW the company is a shabby corporation run like a fiefdom for the benefit of a certain family.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The book in question is called “Faster, Higher, Farther — The Volkswagen Scandal.” It’s currently available for pre-order. I’d be interested in reading it, considering I bought not one, but two of the damn TDIs.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      Damn TDI ???
      Free cars werent they?
      You got – what a $6000 check on top of the pre scandal re sale price for your 2015 sportwagen. You made out like a bandit.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I think Kyree means that he liked the cars, but wishes he hadn’t been duped by the mfr, followed by going through the hassle of getting rid of a car he liked.

        Getting a check for more than the car’s worth still may not translate into buying something equivalent free and clear.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          The restitution was $7,600. And yeah, SCE is spot-on about what I meant. I did really like the car, and while I’m no greener than the next person, I don’t like having contributed unnecessarily to hazardous pollution levels.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I hadn’t heard about that book, just found it on Amazon. Thanks for the heads up, Kyree. Will definitely check it out once it’s available.

  • avatar
    Brumus

    Reporting typo.

    …drama of a mob *trial*…

    – 30 –

  • avatar

    WVUs engineering dept yipped around and bragged for about two years after the story broke about this on big news sites. I’m surprised there has been no clandestine retaliation toward the Advisor/Professor, as deep as this rabbit hole seems to go.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Johnson played the game well. Probably realizing that the first one to talk would win the get out of jail card, he made sure he was at the front of the line.

    Can’t wait to read the book.

  • avatar

    “Who was the Henry Hill to Volkswagen’s Lucchese crime family?” Nice! Piech in the role of Don Corleone, Oliver Schmidt as the fall guy, whistling the Godfather tune while he’s rotting away in his cell. Has someone explained to Trump the interesting role the EPA plays in this, both as a sort of FBI as well as a money-making (finally) government agency.


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