In the United State, emission is no child’s play; the US-based Volkswagen AG executive must have seen it as one. The executive who oversaw emissions issues was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $400,000 by a judge on Wednesday for his role in a diesel emissions scandal that has cost the German automaker as much as $30 billion.
The prison sentence and fine were the maximum possible under a plea deal in August the German national made with prosecutors after admitting to charges of conspiring to mislead U.S regulators and violate clean-air laws.
“It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States,” U.S. District Judge Sean Cox of Detroit told Schmidt in court. “You saw this as your opportunity to shine… and climb the corporate ladder at VW.”
Schmidt read a written statement in court acknowledging his guilt and broke down when discussing his family’s sacrifices on his behalf since his arrest in January.
“I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry,” he said.
U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Benjamin Singer argued in court that Schmidt was “part of the decision making process” at VW to hide a scheme to fake vehicle emissions results and had opportunities tell regulators the truth.
Schmidt was charged with 11 felony counts and federal prosecutors said he could have faced a maximum of up to 169 years in prison. As part of his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop most of the counts and Schmidt consented to be deported at the end of his prison sentence.
Regulators in the United States and Europe are investigating other automakers for potential violations of diesel emissions rules.