VW used sophisticated software to cheat emissions rules on almost 600,000 United States vehicles.
Volkswagen in March pleaded guilty to three felony counts to settle claims the German carmaker installed software to produce fake emission results.
Oliver Schmidt, a German national who worked in VW's MI office, was accused of concealing software that the company used to artificially lower levels of harmful nitrous oxides in exhaust emissions.
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Cox said Schmidt knew Volkswagen's vehicles weren't compliant with US emissions standards and sentenced him to consecutively serve 60 months in prison for the first count and 24 months for the second count in addition to fining him $400,000. Oliver Schmidt will be sentenced Wednesday in Detroit federal court.
"It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States". Judge Cox told Schmidt during the sentencing hearing that he "viewed the cover-up as an opportunity to shine and climb up the corporate ladder".
As the general manager of Volkswagen's engineering and environmental office in Michigan, Schmidt was responsible for the company's relationship with California's regulatory agency and reportedly fed federal regulators false information. The government says he later misled USA investigators and destroyed documents. But his lawyers point out that he wasn't involved when the scheme was hatched years earlier by the company.
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Schmidt apologized in court and broke down while detailing what his family had been through since his arrest in January.
Schmidt pleaded guilty to his part in the coverup, but argued that VW had "misused" him.
"I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry", he said.
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Schmidt, 48, the second and most senior employee to plead guilty in the affair, is among eight current and former VW executives that USA prosecutors have charged so far. "As a outcome of that role, he was literally in the room for important decisions during the height of the criminal scheme".