A Michigan federal judge on Friday sentenced a Volkswagen AG engineer who pled guilty to charges stemming from the diesel emissions scandal to 40 months in prison, slightly longer than the three-year prison term sought by prosecutors.
After months of delays, U.S. District Judge Sean Cox sentenced James Liang to three years and four months in prison. Liang, accused of helping facilitate the installation of so-called defeat devices to skirt U.S. emissions testing in about half a million vehicles, pled guilty in September to a count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act.
Liang was also fined $200,000, due immediately, more than the $20,000 fine requested by prosecutors. He also agreed to be deported to Germany after finishing his prison sentence. Liang is a German citizen.
At the hearing on Friday morning, Judge Cox said that Liang was a member of a long-term conspiracy and that the scandal was “a stunning fraud on American consumers,” a courthouse observer told Law360.
Liang’s attorney, Daniel V. Nixon of Byrne & Nixon LLP, said at the hearing that Liang was the first person to accept responsibility for what happened and that he had cooperated with prosecutors and agreed to testify against another VW executive, Oliver Schmidt, if Schmidt’s case had gone to trial, according to the observer.