Stellantis sentenced in diesel emissions cheating case involving Jeep SUVs, Ram pickups

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The U.S. operating arm of Chrysler parent Stellantis was ordered on Monday to pay about $300 million to settle the criminal portion of its diesel emissions cheating case involving Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Ram 1500 pickups.

The dollar figure tracks with the amount listed in connection with the company's guilty plea in June in U.S. District Court in Detroit to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, commit wire fraud and violate the Clean Air Act.

FCA US LLC was fined $96 million and ordered to pay a forfeiture money judgment of more than $203 million, according to a Justice Department news release, which noted that the court also imposed a three-year term of organizational probation. The sentencing was before Judge Nancy Edmunds.

The release noted that the company has agreed to continue to cooperate with related investigations and implement a compliance and ethics program "designed to prevent and detect fraudulent conduct throughout its operations and will report to the department regarding remediation, implementation and testing of its compliance program and internal controls."

Three company managers — Sergio Pasini, Gianluca Sabbioni and Emanuele Palma — are awaiting trial on similar charges.

The case, which echoed the notorious Dieselgate episode involving Germany's Volkswagen, involved more than 101,000 SUVs from model years 2014-16 and pickups equipped with second-generation EcoDiesel V-6 engines.

The vehicles had software designed to make them perform differently during government emissions tests than under normal driving conditions, leading them to pollute more than they were supposed to, with the company working to conceal this, prosecutors said.

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In addition to the criminal penalties, the company also agreed in 2020 to pay $9.5 million to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission case in the matter; and a civil settlement involving the Justice Department and consumers cost the company almost $800 million.

Detroit-based U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison, in the news release, called the sentence appropriate.

“Today’s sentence is an appropriate punishment for a company that schemed to defraud regulators and consumers. All corporations should be transparent and honest in dealing with the federal government and the public. This prosecution reflects how seriously my office takes this principle,” Ison said.

Stellantis spokesman Eric Mayne referred a Free Press reporter back to a statement the company released in June, which said in part that "FCA US LLC (FCA US) has agreed to a settlement that resolves a U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation involving approximately 101,482 vehicles from model-years 2014 to 2016 equipped with second-generation EcoDiesel V-6 engines. ... Consumer claims related to the subject vehicles have already been resolved, and no additional recalls are required."

Todd Spangler contributed to this report. Contact Eric D. Lawrence: Follow him on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence. Become a subscriber.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Stellantis must pay $300M in diesel emissions cheating case