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VW exec appears in court on charges related to emissions scandal

DETROIT -- A Volkswagen executive who was arrested in the U.S. before he could fly home to Germany has appeared in Detroit federal court on charges related to the company’s emissions scandal. 

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In this handout provided by the Broward Sheriff’s Office, suspect Oliver Schmidt, an executive for Volkswagen poses in this undated booking photo. Schmidt was arrested January 7, 2017 in Florida.

Broward Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images

A not-guilty plea was entered Thursday on Oliver Schmidt’s behalf. He’s charged with conspiracy and other crimes in Volkswagen’s scheme to sell nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that didn’t meet U.S. pollution standards. The company is expected to plead guilty on March 10.  

Last month, Volkswagen agreed to pay a total of $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties stemming from the German automaker’s efforts to cheat on federal and state emissions tests, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in mid-January.

Schmidt is in custody without bond. His lawyer plans to seek his release.  

Five other VW executives charged in the case are in Germany.

From 2012 until February 2015, Schmidt was the general manager in charge of VW’s environment and engineering Office, in Auburn Hills, Michigan. After that time and through September 2015, he worked directly for Heinz-Jakob Neusser, who was the head of development for the VW brand from July 2013 until September 2015.

Neusser is among the six German executives and employees of Volkswagen who have been indicted and charged. The others are Jens Hadler, Richard Dorenkamp, Bernd Gottweis, and Jürgen Peter.