Former VW Compliance Executive Pleads Guilty in Emissions Case

By Mike Spector in New York and Mike Colias in Detroit Features Dow Jones Newswires

A former Volkswagen AG compliance executive pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from his role in the German auto maker's yearslong emissions-cheating deception.

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Oliver Schmidt, a German citizen who for several years headed Volkswagen's environment and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Mich., pleaded guilty in a Detroit federal court on Friday, admitting he helped diesel-powered vehicles evade U.S. emissions requirements.

Mr. Schmidt, 48 years old, was charged with participating in a nearly decadelong conspiracy to defraud U.S. officials and customers with vehicles that featured illegal software allowing them to dupe government emissions tests while polluting far beyond legal limits on the road. Volkswagen earlier this year pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from the scandal, and other individuals were also charged.

In a superseding criminal information, federal prosecutors charged Mr. Schmidt with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act. Prosecutors also leveled a second stand-alone charge of violating the Clean Air Act.

U.S. District Judge Sean Cox accepted Mr. Schmidt's guilty plea during a hearing Friday morning. He scheduled Mr. Schmidt's sentencing for Dec. 6.

Under terms of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Mr. Schmidt faces up to seven years in prison and a fine ranging between $40,000 and $400,000. The agreement requires he be deported from the U.S. after completing his prison sentence. Prosecutors dropped an additional wire fraud charge in exchange for Mr. Schmidt's plea, a court spokesman said.

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Write to Mike Spector at mike.spector@wsj.com and Mike Colias at Mike.Colias@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 04, 2017 11:18 ET (15:18 GMT)