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Volkswagen Executive Pleads Guilty in Emissions Scandal

A German Volkswagen executive has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges in Detroit in a scheme to cheat on emission tests of nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.

Shackled at the wrists and ankles and wearing red prison garb, Oliver Schmidt appeared before U.S. District Judge Sean Cox as part of the U.S. government's case involving the automaker, which has admitted to using software to get around U.S. emission standards.

Schmidt, 48, is a former manager of a VW engineering office in suburban Detroit who was arrested in January while on vacation in Miami. He faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the U.S., wire fraud and violation of the Clean Air Act. A second count of giving a false statement under the Clean Air Act carries a possible sentence of up to two years in prison.

He remains jailed and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6. He also could face deportation.

Schmidt is accused of telling regulators technical problems were to blame for the difference in emissions in road and lab tests.

“Schmidt participated in a fraudulent VW scam that prioritized corporate sales at the expense of the honesty of emissions tests and trust of the American purchasers,” Deputy Assistant Atty. Gen. Jean E. Williams, who is in the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a news release after last week's plea.

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