KILLER LIMO BUST
Biz owner’s son faces negligent homicide
A transportation company operator whose broken-down stretch limo crashed upstate and killed 20 people was arrested Wednesday and charged with criminally negligent homicide.
Nauman Hussain, 28, was pulled over during a morning traffic stop and arrested in connection with the Saturday accident by state police who said he was directly responsible for the tragedy. He was a passenger in a car driven by his older brother Shahyer. Prosecutors said there were several bags in the vehicle packed with his belongings.
Officials said the cause of the crash that killed the driver, 17 passengers and two people in a packed Schoharie parking is still under investigation. But they said this much is clear: Hussain put a driver without the proper paperwork behind the wheel of a shoddy SUV that had no business being on the road.
“The driver he hired should not have been operating the type of vehicle," said State Police Superintendent George Beach. “He was cited with the violations. He knew this. The sole responsibility for that motor vehicle being on the road on Saturday rests with Nauman Hussain. That vehicle was placed out of service by the Department of Transportation in September of this year and should not have been on the road."
Sources said the vehicle was affixed with a large sticker after the failed inspection deeming it out of service. “This vehicle is NOT to be operated until repaired,” the sticker read.
Hussain, whose father owns the Wilton, N.Y.-based Prestige Limousine company, was pulled over along Interstate 787 in Watervliet as he was riding with Shahyer. It was not the first time the siblings were in a car together during a traffic stop.
About four years ago, the brothers, who look alike, pretended to be each other when they were pulled over without
identification with Shahyer behind the wheel, officials said.
The two were arrested after an investigation revealed that Shahyer's license was revoked and had 28 suspensions, he'd used his brother's identity before and that combined, the duo had been ticketed more than 70 times.
Hussain's father, Shahed Hussain, is currently out of the country. His company owned the 2001 Ford Excursion that blew a stop sign, cut through the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store and slammed into an embankment, killing all aboard and two pedestrians in the lot.
The company's safety record and the vehicle's history report have come under intense scrutiny since the crash. The limo failed two inspections this year, including one in March that revealed the hydraulic brakes were not working properly, officials said.
Hussain's lawyer, Lee Kindlon, told the Daily News the arrest had “jumped the gun.” He said the road was more of a factor in the crash.
“It was a known problem to the state of New York,” Kindlon said. “Frankly, the Department of Transportation and the state of New York are doing a great job of saying, ‘Look over there, it's not our fault!' Is this day a distracter for what the state of New York knew and when they knew it? ”
The driver's wife, Kim Lisinicchia, told CBS that she overheard her husband, Scott, say, "I'm not going to drive this ... You need to get me another car."
Hussain pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday night in Cobleskill Town Court and was released on $150,000 bail. Schoharie DA Susan Mallery wanted him to surrender his passports. “Our concern is that he was leaving the jurisdiction today with packed belongings.”
Nauman Hussain, 28, who was running the limo company owned by his father, was arrested and charged Wednesday in horrific wreck that killed 20 people near Albany over the weekend.