VW Executive Pleads Guilty to Dieselgate Conspiracy Charges

Oliver Schmidt could face up to seven years in prison for his role in the scandal.

byWill Sabel Courtney|
VW Executive Pleads Guilty to Dieselgate Conspiracy Charges

A Volkswagen executive has pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to mislead the U.S. government and break emissions laws, Reuters reports. 

Oliver Schmidt, who pled guilty to the charges in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Friday, could face up to seven years in prison and a fine ranging between $40,000 and $400,000, according to Reuters. That's a far lighter sentence than he could have faced, however; Schmidt was originally charged with 11 felony counts, which combined to carry a maximum potential sentence of 169 years in prison. The plea deal was expected, as Automotive News reported last month

Schmidt, who ran Volkswagen's regulatory compliance office, was captured by FBI agents in Miami ahead of a scheduled flight to Germany last January. He was ruled a flight risk, and has been detained in the U.S. since his arrest. He's one of eight current and former Volkswagen executives who have been charged by the Department of Justice over the emissions cheating scandal. 

In a statement cited by Reuters, Volkswagen said, "It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters," while reiterating that it was cooperating with authorities in regards to the ongoing Dieselgate-related individuals.

Last March, VW pled guilty to three felony counts filed against the company by the U.S. government, agreeing to pay $4.3 billion in fines. The company also has agreed to pay out just shy of $15 billion in restitution to customers and other aggrieved parties, including $10 billion to buy back and repair the roughly half a million affected vehicles in the United States, as well as compensate those cars' owners.