DETROIT - A Volkswagen senior manager was sentenced to seven years in a U.S. prison on Wednesday for concealing software that was used to evade pollution limits on nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles.

Lawyers spent roughly 90 minutes giving different views about Oliver Schmidt's culpability in the scandal. But Judge Sean Cox sided with prosecutors, calling Schmidt a "key conspirator" who viewed the cover-up as an opportunity to "shine" and "climb the corporate ladder."

Schmidt led VW's engineering and environmental office in Michigan from 2012 to early 2015. He met with key California regulators in 2015 but didn't disclose the rogue software. The government says he later misled U.S. investigators and destroyed documents.

Schmidt's lawyers argued that his role only heated up in 2015, years after others at VW hatched the scheme.