The Volkswagen AG exec arrested last year in the US in relation to his part in defrauding diesel vehicle emissions regulators, Oliver Schmidt, will be pleading guilty on August 4 in US District Court in Detroit, a court spokesperson has revealed.
Schmidt, who was the head of Volkswagen’s environmental and engineering center in Michigan, has been charged with 11 felony counts and could face a maximum of up to 169 years in prison.
Considering that Schmidt’s legal defense team has obviously worked out some sort of deal, though, his actual sentencing isn’t likely to be very harsh. We’ll have to wait to find out the specifics.
It would stand to reason that Schmidt’s deal probably involves providing testimony relating to the 7 other Volkswagen execs that have been charged as part of the investigation into the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal. Those execs are all still hiding out in Germany (or possibly elsewhere), while Schmidt has been in custody since January.
To clarify the reference to “hiding out,” the government of Germany typically doesn’t extradite its citizens to face charges in other countries. The only reason that Schmidt is in US custody is that he was picked up at an airport in Florida while on stopover from a return trip from Cuba.
Reuters provides more: “Federal court spokesman David Ashenfelter said prosecutors and lawyers told US District Judge Sean Cox on Tuesday morning that Schmidt had decided to plead guilty.
“A lawyer for Schmidt, David DuMouchel, declined to comment. … The terms of Schmidt’s plea agreement were not immediately clear. US prosecutors have amassed more than 4.3 million documents covering more than 40 million pages in the ongoing probe.”
A Volkswagen spokesperson unsurprisingly declined to comment when asked about the news.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of sentence Schmidt gets with his plea deal, especially since he’s likely to be the only Volkswagen exec that ends up facing justice in the US. What do you think — will Schmidt get off with nothing but a slap on the wrist, or is he facing a serious prison sentence?