VW exec pleads not guilty on diesel cheating charges
A Volkswagen executive appeared in a federal courtroom in Detroit last week to be arraigned on charges related to the automaker's diesel-emissions cheating.
Oliver Schmidt previously headed the VW Group's U.S. regulatory compliance group. He was arrested by the FBI in Florida last month, while attempting to return home to Germany from a vacation.
Prosecutors allege that Schmidt played a role in deceiving regulators about VW's use of illegal "defeat device" software in its diesel cars to enable them to comply with emission tests while emitting up to 35 times as many nitrogen oxides as permitted by law.
During his arraignment in Detroit on Thursday, Schmidt's attorney, David DuMouchel, waived a reading of the indictment, according to The Detroit News.
U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen entered a not-guilty plea on Schmidt's behalf, and ordered him temporarily detained, the paper reported.
DuMouchel said he would be seeking bond for Schmidt, claiming the VW executive is suffering from shingles and needed medication from his wife.
He also asked that Schmidt be detained at the federal prison in Milan, Michigan.
"This is a paper-intensive matter," DuMouchel said in court, claiming Schmidt would have better access to computers and other resources to complete the paperwork at the Milan facility.
Schmidt was the first Volkswagen executive charged with criminal behavior in connection with the diesel-emission scandal.
Following his arrest, federal authorities charged five other current and former VW executives with participation in the creation and deployment of defeat device software, and attempts to hide the software's existence from regulators.
Former Volkswagen engineer James Liang pled guilty last fall to violating the Clean Air Act and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.
Last month, the automaker settled with the Justice Department, agreeing to plead guilty on three felony counts of criminal misconduct.
VW will pay a criminal fine of $2.8 billion, and operate under the oversight of a court-appointed independent monitor for three years.
It will also pay $1.45 billion to settle civil claims by the Customs and Border Protection agency under U.S. customs and environmental laws.
Volkswagen has reached settlements with regulators and owners of the affected diesel cars that will allow it to start buybacks, as well as implement modifications approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board for certain vehicles that will allow them to comply with emissions standards.
Modifications for all affected vehicles have not been approved, however.
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