A Volkswagen manager who pleaded guilty to deceiving regulators in the United States over the emissions of the company's TDI diesel engines has been sentenced to the maximum penalty of seven years in prison and the maximum fine of $400,000.
"This crime ... attacks and destroys the very foundation of our economic system," said federal court judge Sean Cox In handing down the sentence for Oliver Schmidt. "That is trust."
"Senior management at Volkswagen has not been held accountable," he noted.
Schmidt is the second Volkswagen employee to be convicted in the United States for involvement in Volkswagen's 10-year emissions deception involving diesel-powered vehicles.
The Detroit News reported the tough sentence Schmidt received Wednesday is likely to put others on alert who've been indicted by the United States.
Most other Volkswagen employees indicted live in Germany and other regions outside the grasp of U.S. authorities.
Before his sentencing, Schmidt attempted to show remorse for his role in the scandal by penning a letter to Cox.
In that letter, Schmidt wrote, "The last eleven months behind bars in the United States has been the most difficult time in my life. I am truly embarrassed/ashamed to be standing in front of you."
He also explained, “Being arrested on the toilet of the airport in Miami by (eight) law enforcement officers and then being led to my wife in handcuffs was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life up until then. This humiliation was surpassed by the public shaming that followed. My mugshot became the face of Dieselgate worldwide.”
Volkswagen TDI diesel cars stored at Pontiac Silverdome (Photo by Jalopnik)
Schmidt's lawyer, David DuMouchel, argued for a smaller fine and 40 months sentence for his client, stating Schmidt wasn't as involved in the scandal as other Volkswagen executives.
Prosecutors countered by saying Schmidt acted in a "brazen" manner when dealing with federal officials and his involvement was "important" to the deception.
This past August, Volkswagen's U.S. head of diesel compliance James Robert Liang was sentenced to 40 months in prison and given a $200,000 fine for his involvement in the deception.
Volkswagen itself pleaded guilty earlier this year to three criminal charges related to Dieselgate. It was fined $2.8 billion and given three years of probation on top of a civil settlement reached with the Environmental Protection Agency requiring the company to pay a $14.7 billion penalty.