VW Engineer Pleads Guilty in Dieselgate Criminal Case

By Paul Riegler on 11 September 2016
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DSC_0597A senior Volkswagen engineer pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud buyers of VW diesels as well as federal regulators in the first criminal charges stemming from the U.S. investigation into the German carmaker’s emissions deception known as Dieselgate.

James Liang entered his plea in made in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on Friday and the Department of Justice said he is cooperating with the investigation. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted.

His lawyer, Daniel V. Nixon, said that Mr. Liang, who has worked at the Wolfsburg-based automaker since 1983 and is one of its most respected engineers, is accepting responsibility for his actions. “He is one of many at Volkswagen who got caught up in the emissions scandal, and he is very remorseful for what took place.”

Mr. Liang continues to be employed by VW and was part of a team of engineers at its headquarters who in 2006 was part of a team that developed a new diesel engineer that could meet new, strict diesel emissions standards in the United States that were rolling out at the time.

Given a tight timeframe on meeting the new emissions standards, the new engine would have to compromise on fuel economy and power, his team found. Instead of going that route, they decided to implement a so-called defeat device, software that would fool emissions testing systems.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)