Oliver Schmidt, a Volkswagen executive who was arrested on January 7 at the Miami International Airport when taking a flight to his native Germany after a family vacation, will remain behind bars due to “an extreme flight risk,” according to a new report from Automotive News. Schmidt faces 11 felony counts after attempting to “deceive and mislead U.S. regulators” and, if convicted, could face up to 169 years in federal prison.

The 48-year old executive is believed to be well aware of the company’s intentions to mislead the regulators in order to keep selling its diesel vehicles in the country, equipped with emission manipulating devices. Schmidt is one of seven VW executives charged in the case, but is the only one in jail, as his colleagues remain in Germany, outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Automotive News says the German government rarely extradites its citizens to face charges in other countries.

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Yesterday, Schmidt appeared in U.S. District Court in Detroit clad in red prisoner jumpsuit and shackled at the wrists and ankles, and pleaded not guilty. His attorney, David DuMouchel, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Whalen if he could be transferred from his current location, the county jail, to a federal facility in nearby Milan, Mich.

At this point, it’s not clear what Schmidt’s current employment status at Volkswagen is. When he was arrested, he was still employed by the automaker, but now the company declined to comment. “Volkswagen continues to cooperate with investigations by the Department of Justice into the conduct of individuals," an official statement says. "It would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters."

Source: Automotive News

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