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VW engineer sentenced to 40 months in prison for emissions cheating

James Liang has also been ordered to pay a $200,000 fine.
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NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former Volkswagen engineer James Liang is taking the fall for his employers sins. Liang has been sentenced to 40 months in federal prison, and has been ordered to pay a $200,000 fine for his part in the German automaker's deception about diesel emissions. That fine is 10 times the amount prosecutors were seeking, according to Reuters. While his defense argued for house arrest considering he'd only "blindly executed" his marching orders out of "misguided loyalty."

The prosecution had other ideas, and felt that a prison sentence would "send a powerful deterrent message" to the rest of the auto industry.

Bloomberg reports that VW went as far as operating a top-secret test site for its diesel emissions, so as to hide its trickery.

"Some engineers used the research facility in Wolfsburg, Germany, to upload the software that manipulated regulatory emissions checks," one of the publications sources said. More than that, the test facility was apparently not too far from the main executive tower and had:

"Unusually tight security rules that prevented access to those not involved in the project, including high-level employees who could enter all other development sites," Bloomberg writes.

This suggests that Volkswagen's claims that its higher-ups had no idea about the emissions coverups may not hold any water.

The automaker's top emissions compliance officer Oliver Schmidt is scheduled to be sentenced in Detroit on December 6th. He's already plead guilty, could serve up to seven years in prison and pay up to $400,000 in fines for his involvement in the scandal.

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