VW used sophisticated software to cheat emissions rules on almost 600,000 US vehicles and 100,000 in Canada.
According to the January 2017 complaint against Schmidt, the executive "offered technical reasons and excuses such as "irregularities" or "abnormalities" for the discrepancy without revealing the fundamental reason for the higher NOx measurements on the road: software intentionally installed in VW vehicles so the vehicles could detect and evade emissions testing".
Oliver Schmidt, a German national who worked in VW's MI office, was accused of concealing software that the company used to artificially lower levels of harmful nitrous oxides in exhaust emissions.
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Schmidt, who led Volkswagen's USA regulatory compliance office from 2012 to March 2015, was also ordered by a federal judge in Detroit to pay a $400,000 fine. However, the sentencing judge, Sean Cox, sided with the prosecution. He said he considered Schmidt a "key conspirator", who viewed the cover up as an opportunity to "shine" and "climb the corporate ladder".
In a statement to the court, Schmidt admitted guilt, saying, "I made bad decisions and for that I am sorry".
The government said he later misled USA investigators and destroyed documents.
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Puigdemont, Junqueras and other former ministers are candidates for the elections, despite being in exile or prison. Campaigning began on Tuesday, with polls predicting a close race between the pro and anti-independence camps.
Schmidt's lawyers argued that his role only heated up in 2015, years after others at VW hatched the scheme.
Half a dozen other former VW executives are still at large, but Schmidt's stiff sentence could lessen the odds of others indicted in the case being prosecuted, with many residing in Germany, the Detroit Free Press reported.
"The defendant has a leadership role within VW", federal officials said.
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In March, Volkswagen AG pleaded guilty to three felonies and agreed to pay a $2.8 billion criminal fine.
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