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Volkswagen pleads guilty to criminal charges over Dieselgate emissions cheating

Volkswagen has pled guilty to three criminal charges stemming from the company’s diesel emissions cheating on hundreds of thousands of VW and Audi models sold in the U.S. The company agreed to pay $4.3 billion in in criminal and civil penalties as part of an agreement with the Justice Department.

During a hearing in Michigan federal court, Volkswagen attorneys entered a guilty plea on behalf of the company on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, wire fraud, and violations of the Clean Air Act. Volkswagen agreed to plead guilty to the three charges as part of a settlement deal with the Department of Justice and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that was reached in January.

Although the settlement brings Volkswagen closer to resolving its civil and criminal liabilities stemming from the Dieselgate scandal, several Volkswagen executives still face criminal charges in connection with their actions during the emissions cheating controversy. VW executive Oliver Schmidt was arrested by U.S. authorities in January in Miami over charges stemming from the Dieselgate scandal. Five other Volkswagen executives have also been charges in connection with the scandal and are believed to be in Germany.

According to Justice Department officials, Schmidt was part of a July 2015 meeting in which he agreed to use connections with the U.S. government to get VW models equipped with emissions cheating software approved by U.S. officials. Schmidt was charged with 11 counts carrying a maximum sentence of 169 years in prison.

Volkswagen’s Dieselgate Emissions Cheating

In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted that it had installed an emissions defeat device on 11 million VW and Audi diesel models sold worldwide, including about 600,000 vehicles sold in the United States. This defeat device was designed to reduce the emissions levels of VW’s “TDI Clean Diesel” models during inspection, making them appear to emit lower pollution levels than they did under normal driving conditions.

The vehicles affected by Volkswagen’s emissions cheating during the Dieselgate scandal include the 2009-2015 Audi A3 TDI, the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, the 2016 Audi A7 Quattro, the 2016 Audi A8, the 2016 Audi A8L, the 2016 Audi Q5, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the 2012-2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI, and the 2014 Volkswagen Toureg.

In July 2016, Volkswagen agreed to pay $14.7 billion to settle hundreds of thousands of lawsuits filed against the company in the U.S. The settlement was the largest ever automotive litigation settlement in U.S. history.

Volkswagen Owners May Qualify to Take Legal Action

Drivers who purchased or leased a Volkswagen, Audi, or Porsche diesel model involved in the VW emissions cheating scandal need learn about their legal rights. To learn about your legal rights, it is important that you consult with a law firm that can advise you regarding your legal options.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed lawsuits on behalf of VW and Audi vehicle owners across the U.S. whose vehicles were involved in the VW emissions cheating scandal. Our partner, Michael Heygood, was named to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) that is helping to oversee the Multidistrict Litigation (or MDL) in California on behalf of VW and Audi diesel owners who have filed lawsuits against Volkswagen. Heygood, Orr & Pearson expects to remain involved in the Dieselgate lawsuits throughout the litigation process, and will work to achieve the best possible results for consumers who were harmed by Volkswagen’s fraudulent conduct.

If you purchased or leased one of the VW or Audi diesel-powered vehicles involved in the Dieselgate scandal, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson to learn more about your legal options. For a free legal consultation about your case, please contact us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions to get started.

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