Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A federal judge sentenced a former Volkswagen executive to 7 years in prison Wednesday for his role in a massive emissions-cheating scandal.
U.S. District Judge Sean Cox sentenced Oliver Schmidt, Volkswagen's former compliance liaison with American regulators, to a total of 7 years in prison for one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and another of violating the Clean Air Act.
"This crime ... attacks and destroys the very foundation of our economic system," Cox said.
Schmidt, a German national, pleaded guilty to both charges in July. He was accused of knowingly providing the Environmental Protection Agency with false information about engine computers in more than 500,000 of Volkswagen's diesel vehicles, which investigations found were purposefully programmed to hide unlawful emissions performance.
He asked Cox to limit his sentence to 40 months, saying his bosses coached him to lie about emissions.
Cox said Schmidt knew Volkswagen's vehicles weren't compliant with U.S. emissions standards and sentenced him to consecutively serve 60 months in prison for the first count and 24 months for the second count in addition to fining him $400,000.
"In my opinion, you were a key conspirator, responsible for the cover-up in the United States," Cox said.
Volkswagen engineer James Liang was sentenced to 40 months in prison and fined $200,000 in August for his role in the scandal.
The company was forced to pay a $4.8 billion fine including a $2.8 criminal fine and a $1.5 billion civil fine.