Former VW exec expected to plead guilty to 2 charges
Detroit — A former Volkswagen AG executive indicted in the automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal is expected to plead guilty Friday to two of three original charges.
Oliver Schmidt, a German national, was arraigned Thursday in federal court in Detroit on revised charges. Schmidt, 48, stood mute to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act; and a second charge of violating the Clean Air Act. Magistrate Judge David Grand entered a not-guilty plea on Schmidt’s behalf Thursday to those charges.
The ex-executive faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the first charge. He also is expected to plead guilty to a count of violating the Clean Air Act and faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
He is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday for a plea hearing, where he is expected to plead guilty.
Schmidt’s attorney declined to comment.
Last week, federal court authorities said Schmidt had agreed to plead guilty to some charges related to his alleged role in the scandal, though it was unclear what specific charges.
Schmidt is VW’s former top emissions compliance manager for the United States. He worked in VW’s Auburn Hills offices from 2012 to February 2015. He was arrested in Florida in January for alleged involvement in one of the largest alleged corporate criminal schemes in U.S. history.
Federal Judge Sean Cox in March denied Schmidt a pretrial bond release. His trial had been scheduled to begin in January 2018.
Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty in March to three criminal charges related to the automaker’s decade-long conspiracy to rig nearly 600,000 diesel cars and evade U.S. emission standards. The company was fined a record-setting $2.8 billion and faces three years of probation.
Current and former VW executives were indicted in what regulators called a 10-year conspiracy to rig thousands of diesel cars to evade emission standards. Also charged: Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Jens Hadler, Richard Dorenkamp, Bernd Gottweis and Jürgen Peter, all of Germany.
Another former Volkswagen executive has already pleaded guilty.
In September, James Robert Liang, head of diesel competence for VW from 2008 to June 2016, pleaded guilty in Detroit to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Liang, 63, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 25.