U.S. judge delays sentencing of VW employee aiding in emission probe

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By David Shepardson | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON Jan 3 A federal judge on Tuesday
delayed the sentencing a German man who is the only person to
face U.S. criminal charges over Volkswagen’s diesel emission
cheating scandal, as he cooperates with prosecutors still
investigating the matter.

In September, James R. Liang, who has worked for Volkswagen since 1983 and was part of a team of engineers who
developed a diesel engine, pleaded guilty after being charged
with conspiring to commit wire fraud and violating U.S. clean
air laws.

Liang was scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 1, but U.S.
District Judge Sean Cox in Detroit issued an order delaying the
sentencing until May 3 “to allow more time for defendant’s
cooperation in the investigation.”

Liang is “cooperating with the government in the
investigation and the potential prosecution of others,” the
court filing said.

Liang, a German citizen who lives in Newbury Park,
California, was charged with conspiring with current and former
VW employees to mislead the U.S. government about software that
federal regulators called a “defeat device,” which allowed the
automaker to sell diesel vehicles for more than six years that
emitted more smog-forming gases than U.S. emission standards
allow.

A lawyer for Liang did not immediately return a message
seeking comment. The Justice Department and Volkswagen declined
to comment.

Liang was one of the engineers in Wolfsburg, Germany,
directly involved in developing the defeat device for the
Volkswagen Jetta in 2006, according to the indictment. Engineers
had quickly realized the diesel engines they were designing for
vehicles targeted at the U.S. market could not meet government
clean air standards while appealing to customers, the indictment
stated.

Volkswagen has agreed to spend as much as $17.5 billion in
the United States to resolve claims from owners as well as
federal and state regulators over polluting diesel vehicles.

Last month, Volkswagen reached a $1 billion settlement with
U.S. regulators, offering to buy back about 20,000 of 80,000
polluting luxury VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles with 3.0-liter
engines. VW also agreed to fix the remaining 60,000.

Volkswagen could still spend billions of dollars more to
resolve a U.S. Justice Department criminal investigation and
federal and state environmental claims and come under oversight
by a federal monitor.

Settlement talks have been ongoing and it is possible a deal
could be reached before Jan. 20, according to sources briefed on
the matter.



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