According to court filings, Schmidt and Gerdes own a half-dozen properties in Florida, all of which are pledged -- along with more than $1 million in cash and other assets -- to win Schmidt’s release on bond pending trial. Gerdes has not responded to three requests for comment from Automotive News. His lawyer also could not be reached for comment.
Letters of support
In an effort to win his release, more than two dozen of Schmidt’s relatives, friends and former co-workers penned letters to U.S. District Judge Sean Cox pleading to the VW executive’s character, and pledging that he would “face his responsibility,” according to his wife.
The letters describe Schmidt as a VW enthusiast from an early age, whose first words were “rolle-rolle” (German for “roll roll”) instead of Mama and Papa, according to his mother, and as a talented engineer and mechanic who spent his teens repairing VW Beetles. They describe a man who was married in 2010 in a Florida VW dealership, and whose home in Germany is decorated with memorabilia from and books about Detroit.
Among those writing letters on Schmidt’s behalf were several members of VW’s former Moonraker team, including Stefan Liske, who led Moonraker as a director of product strategy for VW Group.
“In the house he was an integral part of the team, he supported everybody in any matter. Whenever help was needed, he was among the people who were ready to help,” Liske wrote to Judge Cox. “That’s the reason why I also strongly believe that Oliver will appear in court when the judge asks him to and that he will not at all run away from this case.”