VW Exec Gets Maximum Prison Term

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 08, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Note to client: "When pleading guilty, do not blame someone else for your crime."

Oliver Schmidt, a former Volkswagen executive, apparently didn't get the memo. Not that one anyway.

He was sentenced to the maximum term of seven years and ordered to pay $400,000 for his part in the auto company's scandal. Volkswagen cheated emissions tests, and Schmidt covered it up.

"A Key Conspirator"

In his own memo to a colleague in April 2014, Schmidt recognized the problem. He was in charge of emissions testing in the United States at the time.

"It should first be decided whether we are honest," he said in an email to a Volkswagen colleague.

Schmidt had good reason to know then that the company was cheating the government, investors, and consumers. He was arrested earlier this year on charges of defrauding the government and conspiracy.

He pleaded guilty, and recently received a sentence. "You are a key conspirator responsible for the cover-up in the United States of a massive fraud perpetuated on the American consumer," U.S. Judge Sean Cox said as he handed out the maximum term.

"I Felt Misused"

Defense lawyers suggested 40 months of supervised release and a $100,000 fine. Schmidt also asked for lesser punishment.

"I must say that I feel misused by my own company in the diesel scandal or 'Dieselgate,'" Schmidt wrote. He said he should have ignored instructions the company gave him about the cheat device.

Of course, that didn't help. And although Schmidt's case may be over, Volkswagen will be dealing with the fallout for some time.

The company already paid about $30 billion in fines and penalties in the scandal. Company lawyers may face some liability as well.

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