Volkswagen Engineer Sentenced for Role in Emissions Fraud

By Adrienne Roberts and Mike Spector Features Dow Jones Newswires

A Volkswagen engineer was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment and will pay a $200,000 fine for participating in the German auto giant's emissions-cheating deception after cooperating with U.S. prosecutors in their criminal investigation of the yearslong conspiracy to defraud government officials and customers.

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James Liang, 63 years old, received the sentence from U.S. District Judge Sean Cox on Friday morning during a hearing in a Detroit federal court. Mr. Liang in September pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S., commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act for his role in helping Volkswagen evade emissions requirements with diesel-powered vehicles.

Mr. Liang, a German national, has agreed to be removed from the U.S. following his prison term, according to prosecutors. He moved to and settled in the U.S. with his family in 2008 to help Volkswagen launch diesel-powered vehicles and handled certification, testing and warranty issues, prosecutors said.

The more than three years in prison the judge imposed exceeded prosecutors' recommendation. They had asked that Mr. Liang receive three years imprisonment and a $20,000 fine.

Mr. Liang is one of eight individuals charged in a U.S. Justice Department probe of Volkswagen's nearly decadelong conspiracy to rig nearly 600,000 diesel-engine vehicles with illegal software that allowed them to cheat on government emissions tests while polluting far beyond legal limits on the road. Volkswagen, which has acknowledged the software is on some 11 million vehicles globally, earlier this year pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the U.S. stemming from the deception and agreed to pay billions of dollars in penalties.

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

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 25, 2017 12:07 ET (16:07 GMT)