DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A spokesman for U.S. District Court in Detroit says a German Volkswagen executive plans to plead guilty in the company’s U.S. emissions scandal.
Spokesman David Ashenfelter says lawyers informed a judge on Tuesday, and Oliver Schmidt will appear in federal court on Aug. 4.
Schmidt is one of eight VW executives charged in the U.S. in a scheme to cheat emission rules on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.
Schmidt has been in custody since January when he was arrested in Miami while on vacation. One other exec has other pleaded guilty, while others, WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert reports, remain in Europe out of reach of U.S. authorities.
VW admits using software to get around diesel emission standards. As VW’s top compliance officer in the U.S., Schmidt is accused of being involved in a conspiracy to lie to regulators by saying technical problems, not the software, were to blame for the difference in emissions in road and lab tests.
Schmidt was the manager of VW’s environment and engineering office in suburban Detroit.
Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs says this case sends a message to other automakers.
“I do think that Volkswagen, in this situation, was held as an example and it should be a wake-up call to all auto executives that there’s no fooling around with this kind of thing,” Krebs said.
Schmidt faces a lengthy prison term if convicted as charged. More details about the deal are expected to come out at the hearing next month.
VW itself has already pleaded guilty. The company is also under investigation in Europe.
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