U.S. judge approves Toyota $1.2 billion unintended acceleration deal

NEW YORK, March 20 Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:46pm EDT

NEW YORK, March 20 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge approved a deferred prosecution agreement with Toyota Motor Corp on Thursday that resolves an investigation into safety issues and could serve as a model in a similar probe of General Motors Co.

U.S. District Judge William Pauley's decision, delivered at a hearing in New York, came a day after the U.S. Justice Department announced Toyota would pay $1.2 billion to settle the investigation stemming from problems that caused cars to accelerate suddenly.

The judge said the case presented a "reprehensible picture of corporate misconduct." Pauley said he hoped it was not the end but rather the beginning in the government's efforts to hold the individuals at Toyota accountable who made the decisions at the heart of the case. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis)