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Dieselgate’s first blood drawn: Volkswagen engineer charged and pleads guilty

VW TDI Image used with permission by copyright holder
How’s this for a one-two punch? Just as news is breaking that a Volkswagen engineer is being charged in connection to the Dieselgate scandal, we learn that he’s already plead guilty to multiple federal charges.

The U.S. Justice Department named James Liang in its probe of the German automaker for crimes related to the cheat device installed on thousands of diesel vehicles. Liang was charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, and violation of the clean air act, among other crimes.

Upon being charged, Liang reportedly entered a plea agreement for his cooperation in the investigation of others and greater details associated with Dieselgate. So what exactly was Liang’s involvement? Well, according to the Justice Department, as reported by CNBC, Liang developed software way back in 2006 to make the vehicles appear cleaner than they were. It doesn’t get much closer to the source than that. VW responded to the indictment by restating its cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice but made no comments about Liang. Who knows what information Liang will reveal to the feds, but chances are, it will be pretty juicy.

Read More: VW Reaches Dieselgate Settlement

Liang was part of a diesel development team in Germany when he was assignment the cheat device project. The engineer then moved to the U.S. in May of 2008 to help launch the new line of “clean diesels.”

As for the automaker, it’s knee-deep in a settlement that will cost it over $16 billion to fix or buy back 475,000 affected vehicles that were sold over a seven year period. VW admitted that 2.0-liter diesels were equipped with cheat devices, but a resolution about 3.0-liter diesels is still coming. These engines were found in VW, Audi, Porsche, and Skoda models.

The latest report says VW may not be able to provide a sufficient fix and will thus have to buy back all the cars. Ouch. The automaker is also on the hook for $2.7 billion in environmental mitigation and $2 billion for research on zero-emissions vehicles.

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