A federal judge in Michigan has sentenced a former high-level Volkswagen manager to seven years in prison for his part in the scheme to cheat emissions tests and defraud consumers.
Oliver Schmidt has also been fined $400,000. He pleaded guilty in August to charges that included defrauding the United States and violating the Clean Air Act.
“This sentence reflects how seriously we take environmental crime,” Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said Wednesday. “Protecting national resources is a priority of this office. Corporations and individuals acting on behalf of corporations will be brought to justice for harming our environment.”
Schmidt was the general manager of Volkswagen’s U.S. Environment and Engineering office. He admitted knowing about and agreeing with engineers to carry out a scheme to install a device on certain VW diesel vehicles that would switch on for emissions tests, but switch off during normal driving.
Customers bought the cars believing they were environmentally friendly when in fact the cars were polluting as much as 30 times higher than U.S. standards.
Federal courts have ordered Volkswagen to spend more than $1 billion to buy back or repair the affected cars.