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VW Exec Could Face Life Behind Bars For Role In Dieselgate Scandal

A Volkswagen executive held since last Saturday when he was arrested at Miami's airport as he was heading home from a U.S vacation could face life in prison if he is convicted of 11 conspiracy counts in the Dieselgate scandal.

A Volkswagen executive, arrested as he planned to fly home following a Florida vacation last weekend, faced more time behind bars as a federal judge Thursday ordered him held without bail pending his trial. He could face life in prison.

Oliver Schmidt, 48, manager of the automaker’s engineering office, was charged with 11 felony counts as the ongoing Justice Department investigation of the automaker’s Dieselgate scandal continued.

U.S. Magistrate William Turnoff ruled that Schmidt was a flight risk. Schmidt has been held since last Saturday when FBI agents arrested him at Miami’s airport. He is one of six current or former VW executives who were charged with conspiracy and wire fraud by the Justice Department this week. Schmidt’s attorneys planned to appeal the decision.

The others charged so far remain in Germany and are unlikely to be extradited to the U.S.

According to a Reuters report, Schmidt faces “what would be an effective life sentence” if he is convicted in the emissions rigging scandal. He faces up to 169 years in prison if he is found guilty of the 11 felony counts with which he has been charged.

The action against Schmidt follows Volkswagen’s $4.3 billion settlement with the Justice Department. The automaker agreed to plead guilty and pay the civil and criminal penalties.

The emissions rigging scandal has proven costly to Volkswagen. Until the settlement, announced Wednesday, where the automaker pleaded guilty, the automaker had agreed to pay about $22 billion to settle other civil, regulatory and state penalties. The new settlement raises the total cost of the Dieselgate scandal to more than $26 billion.

Sources: Automotive News, Reuters