DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A German Volkswagen executive has pleaded guilty in a scheme to cheat emission rules on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.
Oliver Schmidt entered the plea Friday in U.S. District Court in Detroit to conspiring to defraud the United States to commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act, as well as violating the Clean Air Act.
Schmidt faces a maximum seven-year prison term and a fine ranging from $40,000 to $400,000. Although the agreement does not call for him to pay any restitution, it requires that he be deported after completing his sentence.
In exchange for Schmidt’s guilty plea, federal prosecutors dropped a third charge, wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Schmidt is a former manager of a VW engineering office in suburban Detroit. He was arrested in January.
VW admits using software to get around emission standards. The company pleaded guilty in March and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties, on top of billions more to buy back cars.
Schmidt, whose job was to make sure his company followed environmental rules, admitted to working to cover up Volkswagen’s cheating. He told regulators technical problems were to blame for the difference in emissions in road and lab tests.
Most of the VW employees charged in a scheme are in Germany and out of reach of U.S. authorities.
Schmidt, who has been in custody since his arrest in January, will remain confined until sentencing on December 6.
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