Due to the highly publicized emission scandal by Volkswagen’s diesel-powered cars, one of their engineers was sentenced to 40 months in jail. The scandal costs the company $20 billion in fines and a jail sentence for one of Volkswagen employee, James Liang. This scandal had tainted the reputation of one of the most popular carmakers in the world.

Scheming software to pass emission tests

The authorities discovered that Liang helped develop a scheming software that concealed high levels of pollutants. The software is used by diesel-powered engines to pass emission tests.

Liang’s 40-month sentence is no joke, but it could have been worse. The reduced sentence is a result of a plea deal between the Engineer and the prosecutors after Liang agreed to help the government in the investigations.

Harsher punishment

Originally, the sentence was three-year imprisonment with a fine of $20,000. However, Judge Sean F. Cox from the Eastern District of Michigan added a two-year supervised release and increased the fine to $200,000.

According to Judge Cox, Liang and other Volkswagen officials employees are guilty of a massive fraud that did not only violate the Clean Air Act but also the trust of consumers. Cox cited the case as an example of a crime against the country’s “economic system.” He added that trust is vital for the American corporate economy to operate.

The engineer did not address the court during the trial. His lawyer, however, stated that the employee felt “remorse." The lawyer also emphasized that Liang was only part of the problem and that he is not the mastermind. He allegedly did not receive any monetary gain while helping create the software.

In return, the judge cited the engineer’s loyalty during the trial.

Despite feeling guilty due to the deceit, he did not come forward to expose the wrongdoing. Liang worked for the German automaker since the 1980s and is currently receiving $350,000 annual salary. And although his cooperation helped the authorities, the court said it is not enough to give him a home confinement sentence.

The German carmaker Volkswagen already pleaded guilty to defrauding the Clean Air Act, obstruction of justice and customs violations.

The company will pay a total of $22 billion in settlements and in civil and criminal penalties due to the emission testing scandal. Aside from Liang, six other Volkswagen officials were indicted in the case.