Former VW executive Oliver Schmidt has been sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $400,000 for his involvement in the dieselgate scandal.
Schmidt served as the head of VW’s environmental and engineering office in Michigan and was arrested in January after travelling to the United States with his family. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and for violating the Clean Air Act.
Judge Sean F. Cox imposed the sentence in line with the recommendation of prosecutors.
“You are a key conspirator responsible for the cover-up in the United States of a massive fraud perpetuated on the American consumer,” the judge said at sentencing.
Just days before sentencing, Schmidt penned a letter to the judge, admitting that he had been “misused” by VW when he disclosed the brand’s use of diesel software that cheated emissions while in a 2015 meeting with a senior official from the California Air Resources Board.
“A script, or talking points, I was directed to follow for that meeting was approved by management level supervisors at VW, including a high-ranking in-house lawyer. Regrettably, I agreed to follow it,” Schmidt said.
Only one other VW employee has been sentenced in the United States over dieselgate, company engineer James Liang, who received a 40-month term in August.
Many of the senior executives reportedly involved in the scandal are German citizens and out of the reach of American justice. It was Schmidt’s decision to travel to the United States from his native Germany that allowed for his arrest.