DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Volkswagen senior manager has been sentenced to seven years in prison for concealing software that was used to evade pollution limits on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.
Lawyers spent roughly 90 minutes, on Wednesday in federal court in Detroit, giving different views about Oliver Schmidt’s culpability in the scandal.
Prosecutors say Schmidt, a German national, lied to U.S. environmental authorities, lied to investigators and encouraged others at VW to destroy arguments.
Federal Judge Sean Cox rejected defense claims that Schmidt had just “read from a script” provided by his superiors at Volkswagen. He said he considered Schmidt a “key conspirator,” who viewed the cover up as an opportunity to “shine” and “climb the corporate ladder.”
Along with the seven years in prison, Schmidt was ordered to pay a $400,000 fine. That’s the sentence that prosecutors recommended.
Schmidt led VW’s engineering and environmental office in Michigan from 2012 to early 2015. He met with key California regulators in 2015 but didn’t disclose the rogue software. The government says he later misled U.S. investigators and destroyed documents.
Schmidt’s lawyers argued that his role only heated up in 2015, years after others at VW hatched the scheme.
Judge Cox earlier this year sentenced Volkswagen Engineer James Liang to 40-months in prison. Other Volkswagen executives have been charged in this case, but they remain in Germany, out of reach of American authorities.
Schmidt will be deported after he serves his sentence.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.