A half-dozen other Volkswagen employees were also indicted in the company's emissions fraud, though a lot of them reside in Germany and are unlikely to appear in the U.S.to face charges. Volkswagen engineer James Liang pleaded guilty to charges of fraud by concealing emission test rigging software from United States regulators.
As part of pleading guilty, VW admits that they deliberately programmed 600,000 diesel cars distributed in the U.S.to deceive users - programming them to turn on pollution controls while being tested and then turning them off when on the road, in the hands of a consumer.
In an unprecedented settlement, Volkswagen has been ordered to pay $2.8 billion to the U.S.as a criminal penalty in court, pushing the company's massive emissions scandal closer to its end.
In the world of lawsuits and settlements, this is a significant payout by the German automaker and a major warning to other manufacturers.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday it had selected former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Larry Thompson to serve as the company's independent monitor.
"This corporate greed, this failure of management...has cost VW billions and billions of dollars", Cox said. "This is a very serious and very troubling case involving an iconic automobile company", Cox added.
"This conduct was not consistent with the values of this company and plain and simple it was wrong".
Speaking on behalf of Volkswagen, general counsel Manfred Doess said the company "deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to this case".
With the criminal fine, Volkswagen's legal settlements stemming from its emissions fraud could exceed $25 billion in the US alone depending on how many vehicles the auto maker is forced to repurchase.
US regulators confronted VW about the cheating software after West Virginia University researchers discovered differences in testing and real-world emissions of harmful nitrogen oxide.
Volkswagen has admitted to installing so-called defeat devices on almost 600,000 diesel-powered vehicles in the US that duped environmental regulators.
"We have worked tirelessly to address the misconduct that took place within our company and make things right for our affected customers", the company said in a statement on Friday. Last month, Cox denied a pretrial bond release for Schmidt and set a trial date for January 2018.