Diesel Cars

VW exec expected to plead guilty for Dieselgate, could get 169 years

It's unlikely the sentence will be that long, but that's what happens when you're staring down 11 felony counts.

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Back in January, the FBI arrested Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt on charges related to the automaker's diesel scandal. Now, half a year later, he's expected to plead guilty.

Oliver Schmidt is expected to plead guilty on August 4 in Detroit, Reuters reports, citing a court spokesman. One of eight executives charged thus far, Schmidt was picked up as he tried to leave the country in January. He's been held in the US since that time.

Schmidt could end up in prison for longer than the modern car has existed.

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Schmidt is facing 11 separate felony counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, with a maximum sentence of 169 years in prison. Schmidt was the head of VW's environmental and engineering center in Michigan. The full terms of his plea bargain are not yet known. A lawyer for the executive did not immediately return a request for comment.

In March, Volkswagen itself pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges, including fraud and obstruction of justice. It was the first time VW admitted guilt in any court, and it will probably have to pay fines in addition to those already levied against the company.

Volkswagen ended up in this mess after it admitted to willfully deceiving emissions regulators around the world. Engineers created and installed software in diesel vehicles that would curb emissions while testing, only to have the vehicles pollute well in excess of legal limits once on the road. Volkswagen has since agreed to independent oversight and reforms, as well as a buyback scheme in the US that will cost billions of dollars.