A former diesel manager for Stellantis has been given a one-day, time-served sentence and won’t pay restitution in the diesel emissions cheating case involving the automaker that owns the Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat brands.
Emanuele Palma pleaded guilty in July in U.S. District Court in Detroit to a charge of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act in the case involving the sale of more than 100,000 2014-16 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500 pickups. Those vehicles were marketed as “clean EcoDiesel,” but officials have said they’d been calibrated so they polluted less during federal emissions testing than when they were being driven.
FCA US LLC, the U.S. operating arm of Stellantis, pleaded guilty in 2022 to its own criminal charges in the case and was ordered to pay about $300 million, which was on top of earlier settlements involving consumers and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It was a case that had echoes although not on the scale of the larger Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal that cost that automaker billions of dollars to resolve.
Stellantis spokesman Eric Mayne said the company is declining to comment on Palma's sentencing. A message seeking comment was sent to a spokesperson for Palma's attorney.
In the Palma case, Judge Nancy Edmunds in a Nov. 14 court filing noted that “the court waives the costs of incarceration due to the defendant’s lack of financial resources.” The filing noted that Palma would need to pay a $100 assessment but no fine or restitution.
Palma, an Italian citizen who had been living in Bloomfield Hills, was on paid administrative leave following his indictment in 2019 and resigned his position on the day he pleaded guilty, according to a sentencing memo filed by his legal team. That was also the day he was given the OK to reclaim his passport so he could relocate his family to Italy.
Palma had been a calibration engineer working for VM Motori, a supplier of diesel engines based in Italy, before FCA acquired the company in 2013, according to court records. That was before Fiat Chrysler Automobiles merged with Peugeot maker PSA Group in 2021 to form Stellantis. The case was initially filed in 2019.
Palma's sentencing memo said he “takes full responsibility for the conduct underlying the offense and deeply regrets acquiescing to FCA’s decision” not to disclose information to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It said that aside from the offense, Palma’s record “is unblemished.”
The sentencing memo filed by the government called Palma’s conduct “an indictment of his personal and professional values” and said “the conspiracy in this case was protracted and involved a great deal of ongoing misconduct by the company and its agents, including Palma.” However, that memo noted that the government would not object to a sentence that spared him additional imprisonment.
Federal criminal cases against two other managers, Sergio Pasini and Gianluca Sabbioni, remain open, but their status was unclear. No hearings are currently scheduled in federal court, and both reside in Italy.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ex-Stellantis diesel manager won't pay restitution in cheating case