Charges

Limo ser­vice oper­a­tor ap­pears in court

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE -

COBLESKILL, N.Y. — A limou­sine ser­vice oper­a­tor was charged Wed­nes­day with crim­i­nally neg­li­gent homi­cide in a crash that killed 20 peo­ple, while po­lice con­tin­ued in­ves­ti­gat­ing what caused the wreck and whether any­one else will face charges.

Nau­man Hus­sain, 28, showed lit­tle emo­tion as he was ar­raigned Wed­nes­day evening in an Al­ban­yarea court, and he ig­nored shouted ques­tions from re­porters as he left af­ter post­ing $150,000 bond. A judge had en­tered a not guilty plea for him.

Ear­lier, his lawyer said that Hus­sain wasn’t guilty and that po­lice were rush­ing to judg­ment in in­ves­ti­gat­ing Satur­day’s stretch limo wreck.

But State Po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Ge­orge Beach said Hus­sain hired a driver who shouldn’t have been be­hind the wheel of such a car, and the ve­hi­cle shouldn’t have been driven af­ter state in­spec­tors deemed it “un­ser­vice­able” last month.

“The sole re­spon­si­bil­ity for that mo­tor ve­hi­cle be­ing on the road on Satur­day rests with Nau­man Hus­sain,” Beach said, though he noted that in­ves­ti­ga­tors con­tinue look­ing into whether any­one else should be held ac­count­able in the crash.

Hus­sain’s car was packed with lug­gage when he was stopped Wed­nes­day on a high­way near Al­bany, Schoharie County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Su­san Mallery said.

Hus­sain’s lawyer, Lee Kind­lon, said his client felt un­safe at home be­cause he’d got­ten threats.

The com­pany, Pres­tige Limou­sine, has come un­der in­tense scru­tiny since a 19-seater limo ran a stop sign and plowed into a parked SUV at the bot­tom of a long hill Satur­day. The im­pact killed two pedes­tri­ans and 18 peo­ple in the limo, which was tak­ing a group to a birth­day bash.

Kind­lon said his client han­dled only mar­ket­ing du­ties and phone calls, while his fa­ther ran the com­pany, though po­lice called Hus­sain its oper­a­tor.

“My client is not guilty,” Kind­lon said. “The po­lice jumped the gun in charg­ing him with any crime.”

Un­der New York law, crim­i­nally neg­li­gent homi­cide in­volves not per­ceiv­ing a sub­stan­tial, un­jus­ti­fi­able risk that leads to some­one’s death. It’s pun­ish­able by up to four years in prison.

Charged with a sin­gle count in­volv­ing all 20 vic­tims, Hus­sain spoke in a clear, firm voice as he gave brief an­swers to the judge’s ques­tions about his fi­nances and liv­ing ar­range­ments.

He turned twice to nod at rel­a­tives in the court­room au­di­ence.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

NAU­MAN HUS­SAIN, LEFT, LEAVES COBLESKILL TOWN COURT ar­raign­ment Wed­nes­day. with his at­tor­ney Lee Kind­lon af­ter

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