Trial, bond hearing dates set for VW emissions scandal executive in U.S.

Wed Mar 1, 2017 6:23pm EST
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By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday set for April 18 in Detroit the trial of a former Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) U.S.-based executive charged with crimes related to the company's massive diesel emissions scandal, but the defense indicated it may seek a postponement.

Oliver Schmidt, who was the chief of Volkswagen's environmental and engineering center in Michigan, faces charges that could put him in prison for up to 169 years if he is convicted.

Volkswagen is set to plead guilty on March 10 in Detroit to three felony counts under a plea agreement to resolve U.S. charges it installed secret software in vehicles to enable it to beat emissions tests.

The scandal became known to the public in the fall of 2015. The U.S. Justice Department has said that the company realized in 2006 that it could not meet tougher U.S. emissions rules.

Schmidt was one of six former or current VW executives indicted in January but the only one in the United States at the time of the indictments. He was arrested on Jan. 7 in Florida.

Schmidt would be the first VW employee or executive to go on trial in the scandal. A U.S. VW employee, James Liang, was charged in September. He pleaded guilty at the time to misleading regulators about diesel emissions and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Schmidt's attorney, George Donnini, asked U.S. District Judge Sean Cox if he could argue for another trail date because, he said, there was much discovery work to be done before trial, but Cox sternly disallowed the request. If the defense wants a change in the trial date, it should file a motion with the court, Cox said.

Donnini would not comment after Wednesday's brief hearing.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. flag flutters in the wind above a Volkswagen automobile dealership in Carlsbad, California, U.S. May 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo