DETROIT (AP) – Federal prosecutors on Tuesday extended a criminal investigation into the auto industry by accusing Fiat Chrysler engineer of falsely testing pollution of more than 100,000 diesel pickup trucks and jeeps sold in the US, the first charge since a wave of flushes cases against Volkswagen and its executives.
The alleged scheme related to Emanuele Palma is not as big as the Volkswagen emissions scandal involving nearly 600,000 vehicles. But charges show investigators are still on the case, months after Fiat Chrysler agreed to a $ 650 million civil agreement and said it would repair Grand Cherokees jeeps and Ram 1500 EcoDiesel trucks made between 2014 and 2016
Prosecutors allege that he manipulated the software so that the pollution control system could function differently in government tests than during regular driving. An expert said the mention of co-legislators in the Palma indictment suggests that more people may be charged.
"As a result of his engineering decisions, his driving, his lies, these vehicles on the road emit far more pollutants than were permitted by law," Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Weis told a judge in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
US Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford rejected a request by Weiss Palma, a native of Italy who still works at Fiat Chrysler, to wear an electronic monitoring device while he is free on bond.
"We intend to defend this much he
Fiat Chrysler released a brief statement saying it continues to cooperate with investigators. The carmaker agreed to an agreement with US and California regulators in January, though the deal did not allow for any possible deal. criminal liability.
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"We acknowledge that this has created uncertainty for our customers and we believe that resolution will keep their confidence in the with, "said Mark Chernobi, the head of the North American Safety and Compliance Company at the time.  When allegations against Fiat Chrysler first surfaced in 2017, then-CEO Sergio Marchione said it was unfair to even try to compare with Volkswagen.
"There is no one in this house who even tries remotely to try something as stupid as this," he said of the infidelity. "And if I did find one, I would hang it by the neck.
Marchionne died in July 2018. The Palma case shows that the government has a different opinion.
" Or people do not obey leadership or the leadership knew that's what she lied about, "says Bruce Hubert, a professor at Notre Dame Law School. "Either way, neither corporate culture nor the efficiency of governance will have a positive impact."
Volkswagen pleaded guilty in 2017 and agreed to pay $ 4.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties in addition to billions more to buy cars. Two people were sent to prison. The charges are pending in Detroit against others by VW or Audi, but they are in Germany and beyond the reach of US authorities
Meanwhile, prosecutors in Germany on Tuesday accused VW's chief executive officer, chairman and former CEO of manipulating stocks for failure to tell investors in 2015 that the scandal was about to break.
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