In a recent development within the automotive industry, Emanuele Palma, a former diesel manager for FCA US, LLC, faced a one-day, time-served sentence in the diesel emissions cheating case involving the automaker, which owns renowned brands such as Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep® and Ram. Palma’s sentencing comes after his guilty plea in July in U.S. District Court in Detroit to a charge of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act.
The case revolved around the sale of over 100,000 2014 to 2016 Jeep® Grand Cherokee (WK2) and Ram 1500 (DS) pickups equipped with the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel turbodiesel V6 engine. These vehicles were found to have been calibrated to produce lower emissions during federal testing than during normal driving conditions, violating environmental regulations.
Although FCA US (now under Stellantis) had previously pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay around $300 million in penalties, Palma’s sentence took a different turn. Judge Nancy Edmunds, in a recent court filing, waived the costs of incarceration citing Palma’s lack of financial resources. The filing stated that while Palma would need to pay a $100 assessment, he would not face additional fines or restitution.
Palma, an Italian citizen, had been on paid administrative leave following his indictment in 2019 and resigned from his position on the day he pleaded guilty. His legal team noted in a sentencing memo that Palma accepted responsibility for the offense, expressing regret for acquiescing to FCA’s decision not to disclose crucial information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Palma’s record, aside from this offense, was described as unblemished.
While the government’s sentencing memo criticized Palma’s conduct as an indictment of his personal and professional values, it also acknowledged that sparing him additional imprisonment wouldn’t be objected to, given the circumstances.
This case comes amid ongoing federal criminal proceedings against two other managers, Sergio Pasini and Gianluca Sabbioni, whose statuses remain unclear. Both reside in Italy, with no scheduled hearings currently in federal court.
Despite the significance of the emissions scandal, Palma’s minimal sentencing has raised questions about the accountability of individuals involved in such cases within the automotive industry, especially concerning their personal liability in contrast to the penalties imposed on the corporations they represent.
Stellantis declined to comment on Palma’s sentencing, leaving the aftermath of the case open-ended, emphasizing the complexities and legal nuances underlying such environmental scandals within the automotive sector.
Source: Detroit Free Press