VW executive given the maximum prison sentence for his role in Dieselgate

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Oliver Schmidt, the former head of Volkswagen's United States regulatory compliance office from 2014 to 2015, was sentenced on Wednesday to seven years in prison for his role in the German automaker's emissions cheating scandal.

The prison sentence and fine were the maximum possible under a plea deal in August the German national made with prosecutors after admitting to charges of conspiring to mislead USA regulators and violate clean-air laws.

But at the sentencing in Detroit judge Sean Cox sided with the prosecution.

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The prison term and an accompanying $400,000 fine were announced at a sentencing hearing today in a US District Court in Detroit.

In delivering his verdict, Cox said Schmidt was a "key conspirator" who used his role in the scheme as an opportunity to climb VW's corporate ladder.

"He could have made a lot of different choices", Singer said. He argued that he was following a script written by the company's management and one of its lawyers when he lied to the California Air Resources Board about the compliance of VW's cars with U.S. regulations, and that he had come on board after the scheme was devised.

"Every time he chose to lie", Singer said. Five of those remain at large. Chief executive Matthias Mueller last month predicted record deliveries of vehicles for the company this year, and the Volkswagen auto brand has said it expects record deliveries for 2017, and raised its midterm profitability outlook.

James Liang, a former engineer, was sentenced to more than three years in August.

Schmidt originally faced up to 169 years in prison on 11 felony counts before he entered his guilty plea.

He returned to Germany the same month where he was told about the existence of the software.

Schmidt, who oversaw emissions at VW's office in MI from 2012 to early 2015, met with key California regulators in 2015 but did not disclose the rogue software.

Schmidt was arrested in January while traveling in the United States.

The diesel vehicles were programmed to trigger certain pollution results only during testing, not during regular road use.

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