Volkswagen Executive Receives Judgment after One of the Largest Consumer Class Action Suits in U.S. History

The criminal case involving a key Volkswagen executive, ended after twelve months with the sentencing of Oliver Schmidt. In August, Schmidt entered a guilty for two criminal charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The federal judge sentenced the VW executive to seven years in the prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $400,000, both the maximum possible. He will get credit for the eleven months that he has already served in a federal penitentiary. Although the defendant's attorneys requested a lesser fine and supervised release, Judge Sean Cox sided with the federal prosecutors.

Judge Cox went further to say that the conspirator was directly responsible for the cover-up, lied to government officials and spearheaded a massive fraud against our nation's economic systems. Mr. Schmidt was general manager of Volkswagen's Engineering and Environmental Office back in 2014 when California air quality control officials began their investigations. Eighteen months later, Schmidt admitted in civil court that a defeat device was installed on VW diesel-powered vehicles being sold in the U.S. The software for the cheat device would modify emissions only when it detected that the engine was being tested. The device was installed on eleven million diesel-engine cars worldwide to specifically to beat emission controls and pollution testing.

Following the judgment in the civil lawsuit, the German auto manufacturer agreed to pay $16 billion to affected owners of their diesel vehicles. As one of the largest settlements in history, owners of the estimated half a million cars have the option to either sell their vehicles back to Volkswagen or have them fixed to meet the standards imposed by regulators. The scandal impacts many Volkswagen and Audi models of diesel cars including the Audi A3, VW Golf, VW Jetta, VW Passat and the popular Volkswagen Beetle. The judgment and sentencing in the criminal case ended the multi-year investigations by the F.B.I. and the United States Justice Department.


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