BREAKING: U.S. Volkswagen Engineer Charged in Diesel Probe

A criminal charge has been laid in the U.S. Justice Department’s probe into the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal.

A Volkswagen engineer pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in a U.S. District Court in Detroit today, Reuters reports.The veteran engineer, identified by Bloomberg as James Liang, pleaded guilty and entered a plea agreement. A DOJ spokesperson says part of the agreement includes having the engineer assist the government’s investigation into the automaker’s emissions cheating.

Liang, 62, has worked for the automaker since 1983 and was reportedly part of the team that developed the defeat device-equipped diesel engines. He left Germany to work for Volkswagen’s U.S. operations in 2008, around the time that the emissions-cheating 2.0-liter TDI models were being readied for sale.

Liang is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud against U.S. regulators and customers. He could face five years in prison. The engineer is reportedly cooperating with authorities.

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