VW engineer from California pleads guilty to conspiracy in emissions scandal – Los Angeles Times

Posted: Saturday, September 10, 2016

A longtime Volkswagen engineer from Southern California pleaded guilty in federal court to charges he helped design and implement a software system that enabled the German automaker’s diesel engines to defeat emissions tests.

The plea is the first from a staffer involved in the cheating scandal, and it signals that the Justice Department is serious about holding Volkswagen employees personally and criminally responsible for producing about half a million  cars that spew up to 40 times the legally allowed amount of pollutants into the atmosphere.

James Robert Liang, 62, a Newbury Park resident, pleaded guilty in federal court in Detroit to a single charge of conspiring to defraud the United States, commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Today’s charges are the first shoe to drop in the Volkswagen criminal case, but certainly not the last,” said David Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan and former chief of the Justice Department’s environmental crimes section. “The open question is whether the evidence will allow prosecutors to charge senior executives at Volkswagen.”

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