James Robert Liang a 63-year-old German engineer, who played a significant role in the Volkswagen’s diesel emission scandal, attempted a cover up, according U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox. During sentencing in Detroit the judge stated “The conspiracy perpetrated a massive…stunning fraud on the American consumer that attacked and destroyed the very foundation of our economic system.”
Mr. Liang plead guilty to a conspiracy charge in 2016. The federal prosecutor originally requested a 36 month prison sentence combined with a $20,000 fine, however at sentencing Mr. Liang received a sentence of 40 months in prison, in addition to a $200,000 fine. There are over 600,000 diesel vehicles in the U.S. that bypassed U.S. emission standards due to software.
The attorney for Mr. Liang, Daniel Nixon, argued that his client wasn’t motivated by greed, nor was he the mastermind of the scandal, but merely followed orders. Mr. Liang is one of two VW employees who plead guilty. Oliver Schmidt a 48-year-old former manager of a VW engineering office, plead guilty to charges involving the emissions scandal. Mr. Schmidt pleaded guilty to conspiracy as well as fraud charges and is currently awaiting sentencing.
In March of 2017, Volkswagen Corporation reached a settlement to pay $4.3 billion in fines. Currently, VW customers who own affected diesel vehicles are being offered a buy back option or the ability to have their vehicle modified to comply with EPA standards.
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