By on July 25, 2017

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Oliver Schmidt, former top executive at Volkswagen’s environmental and engineering center in Michigan, is ready to plead guilty in a U.S. District Court in Detroit next month. Schmidt is charged with 11 felony counts relating to VW’s diesel emissions scandal and may be eligible for a maximum sentence of 169 years, according to federal prosecutors.

While the trial isn’t scheduled until August 4th, a spokesman for the court indicated the former-VW executive is seeking a plea deal. The details of the bargain are currently unknown, but it’s likely to involve a reduced sentence in exchange of information on the scandal’s murky history. 

“It is now clear that Volkswagen’s top executives knew about this illegal activity and deliberately kept regulators, shareholders and consumers in the dark — and they did this for years,” stated FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe in January. “We can’t put companies in jail but we can hold their employees personally accountable.”

U.S. prosecutors have already amassed millions of documents relating to the emissions cheating scandal and earlier reports indicated Schmidt helped authorities make sense of them.

According to Reuters, federal court spokesman David Ashenfelter explained that prosecutors and lawyers told U.S. District Judge Sean Cox on Tuesday that Schmidt had already decided to plead guilty.

James Liang, the longtime Volkswagen employee who pleaded guilty to misleading regulators in September, has also been cooperating with regulatory investigators and will be sentenced on August 25th. He could spend up to 5 years in prison, although the maximum penalty is unlikely.

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13 Comments on “VW Executive Charged in U.S. Emissions Probe to Plead Guilty...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Give him an 11-year sentence in exchange for solid testimony against the top brass, then let him out in 6 years. My local drug dealer could do at least this well, probably without ratting on anyone.

    I think the penalty phase against the company itself ended too soon.

  • avatar

    I have a feeling James Liang will see a lot more of prison than Schmidt ever will (if he even does).

  • avatar

    My guess is that his testimony will reveal the VW diesel software cheat was a Russian hack. The resulting added Nox emissions short-circuited the brains of US citizens causing them to vote en-mass for Donald Trump. All part of Putin’s plan to put his puppet in the White House. I expect we will be reading about in in the Bezos Post any day now.

  • avatar

    Witch hunt. How many people did VW kill? VW ignition switches killed how many?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      We keep having this conversation.

      GM was clumsy and neglectful; VW had intent.

      If you fall asleep at the wheel and run someone over, I expect you’ll tell the judge there was no intent.

      • 0 avatar

        I disagree. Part change without proper engineering change control? Deceitful and very illegal. Somebody paid the supplier to retool the ignition.

        • 0 avatar

          Honest question: What laws apply to engineering change control?

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX


          Yes, they should have bumped the revision of the switch and purged inventory.

          But a casual review of the Form, Fit, and Function (starting the car) meant that no revision change was necessary. What they didn’t account for was the Function of “staying in the run position when you want it to”.

          You say deceitful; I say neglectful. Evidently, the court agreed with what I’ve said here, and GM paid fines and settlements for being stupid, not criminal.

          Engineering changes are always intended to make a part better, but they don’t always require a revision bump to a subassembly.

          • 0 avatar

            Possibly so – depends on the paper trail. I read that the change was due to mitigate the ignition failure found in test fleets. If so, they are bypassing DOT regulations by not reporting and coinciding a new part #. That is deceitful.

            From my experience, I have never seen a part change that didn’t require a new part number and even then, it has extensive documentation signed off by the designer, current MY program management and the supplier (usually a quality engineer). To say this change wasn’t done without any knowledge would be to say that absolutely everyone besides the designer pencil whipped the change through. I guarantee that the tier 1 at least knew the reasoning (along with the designer).

            If you’re right, I’ll roll my eyes yet again for piss poor engineering. So many in the profession that don’t see the big picture nor do they take pride in what they do. It’s a disgrace. That is the pitfall of standardizing a profession to the point that anyone can do it. Some days I think that there are hardly any intellectuals left in the profession.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree crazy punishment, when a company which agreed to manslaughter gets a fine.
      FCA which has a very large US component has only got a warning so far for being caught out. Wow big Double standard

    • 0 avatar

      You have a company that is possibly guilty of manslaughter getting away with a fine.,FCA caught out cheating , but it has a huge US component gets a warning.,Huge Discrepancy in punishment.

  • avatar

    Folks working in concentration camps got less time than that.

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