Volkswagen pleads guilty to diesel cheating, as if it had a choice

VW's Liaison to US Regulators Is Preparing Guilty Plea

Prosecutors and Schmidt's lawyers told District Judge Sean Cox that the former will plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and violating the U.S. Clean Air Act.

Oliver Schmidt, a German citizen who for several years headed Volkswagen's environment and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Mich., faces charges that he conspired to defraud USA officials and customers with diesel-powered vehicles featuring illegal software that duped government emissions tests.

Mr. Schmidt is one of eight individuals charged in the U.S.in Volkswagen's emissions cheating.

Mr. Schmidt is facing 11 felony counts and a maximum sentence of 169 years in prison. The only reason that Schmidt is in U.S. custody is that he was picked up at an airport in Florida while on stopover from a return trip from Cuba. His lawyers disclosed the plan during a brief conference with a judge, spokesman David Ashenfelter said.

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US prosecutors have gathered more than 4.3 million documents covering more than 40 million pages in the ongoing probe.

It would stand to reason that Schmidt's deal probably involves providing testimony relating to the 7 other Volkswagen execs that have been charged as part of the investigation into the Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud scandal.

An official of German carmaker Volkswagen, arrested earlier this year in the United States in connection with the "dieselgate" case, said on Tuesday his intention to plead guilty, a judicial source said.

VW admitted in September 2015 to installing so-called defeat devices in hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. The devices would only kick on during road conditions when emission measuring tools were not engaged. The others are in Germany, and nearly all are unlikely to face trials in the United States because Germany does not extradite its citizens. He must formally plead guilty at a new hearing on 4 August, the same source said. Schmidt was the head of VW's environmental and engineering center in MI.

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