After a 2009 accident that killed a family of four in San Diego and a $3 million settlement for a crash that killed the driver of a 2005 Camry, Toyota has been ordered to pay the U.S. government $1.2 billion in fines.

A criminal charge filed against the Japanese car manufacturer alleges the company used misleading statements about safety issues in Toyota and Lexus vehicles to defraud customers. The fine comes on the heels of an approved deferred prosecution agreement.

Put simply, Toyota’s conduct was shameful, said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The fine is the largest imposed on any automaker in the U.S., according to Holder. The deferred prosecution agreement means Toyota will admit to its wrongdoing.

The Toyota investigation was led by the FBI in New York and began in 2010. A spokesperson for the company told NBC News that Toyota has cooperated fully with the investigation and, within that time, has made fundamental changes to ensure they are more responsive to customer needs.

Between 2010 and 2012 Toyota paid over $66 million in fines related to delays in reporting problems with unintended acceleration, like the incidents that killed the San Diego family and injured the driver of the Camry. In the Camry case, a passenger was also killed in the impact.

Only after these events did Toyota issue a recall on the parts that contributed to those accidents: defective brakes, faulty gas pedals and improperly installed floor mats.

FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said, [The $1.2 billion penalty] could have been prevented if Toyota had done the right thing, told the truth, and fully disclosed the rampant safety problems. Because the company did not, unwitting consumers paid with their lives.

If you lost a loved one due to a defective product, contact our reputable Tulsa personal injury attorneys.