Son of limo company owner connected to horror crash is arrested

Son of limo company owner connected to horror crash that killed 20 is arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide

  • Nauman Hussain was taken into custody on Wednesday morning, officials said
  • NY State Troopers said they arrested him during a traffic stop on Interstate 787 
  • Hussain manages the day to day operations for Prestige Limousines in New York
  • The company is owned by his father Shahed, who at the moment is in Pakistan
  • Hussain and brother Shahyer have been ticketed more than 70 times combined
  • They were both arrested for impersonating each other during a 2014 traffic stop 

Nauman Hussain, a son of the owner of the limousine company behind Saturday’s crash that killed 20, has been arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide. He is pictured here in a mugshot from 2014

A son of the owner of the limousine company behind Saturday’s horrific crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York has been arrested.

Nauman Hussain, 28, was taken into custody on Wednesday morning and charged with criminally negligent homicide.  

Hussain was arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 787 in Waterville. 

New York State Police Superintendent George Beach said Hussain had previously been issued written violations by the NYSP and the Department of Transportation noting that the ‘driver he hired should not have been operating the vehicle’ from Saturday’s crash. 

‘That vehicle was placed out of service by the DOT and should not have been on the road,’ Beach said during a press conference.

On Wednesday it was revealed that Scott Lisinicchia – who was behind the wheel of the 2011 Ford Excursion before the crash – was cited for operating the same limo without a proper license by a state trooper on August 25. 

The Department of Transportation contacted Hussain about the citation and Lisinicchia was told he was ‘out of service’ and could not drive ‘any motor vehicle’ for any commercial motor carrier until he got the required permit.

Hussain’s girlfriend and brother Shahyer (pictured) appeared visibly upset as they left Troop G headquarters in Albany on Wednesday. They were in the car when Hussain was arrested

This week both the NYSP and Gov Andrew Cuomo confirmed that Lisinicchia still did not have the required permit when he drove the limo on Saturday.

‘He knew this,’ Beach said during a press conference on Wednesday. ‘The sole responsibility for that motor vehicle being on the road Saturday rests with Nauman Hussain.’ 

Beach said the criminal investigation and the investigation into the cause of Saturday’s crash continues. 

Hussain manages the day to day operations of Prestige Limousines, which is owned by his father Shahed (pictured)

Hussain’s father Shahed, who owns Prestige Limousines while Hussain manages day to day operations, is also part of the continuing investigation, according to Beach.

Shahed is currently in Pakistan for a medical operation and has ‘signaled his willingness’ to return to the US to help the investigation, according to Hussain’s lawyer Lee Kindlon.

Beach said he does not have the legal authority to ask Shahed to come back to the US. 

Hussain will be arraigned this evening. While he currently only faces one charge in the 20 deaths, there is a possibility that he could face additional charges in the future after the case is sent to the Schoharie County District Attorney’s office.  

His girlfriend and brother Shahyer appeared visibly upset as they left Troop G headquarters in Albany around 1pm on Wednesday. They were in the car when Hussain was pulled over and arrested.  

Kindlon hit out at the NYSP during his own press conference in front of the headquarters.

‘My client is not guilty. The police jumped the gun,’ he told reporters. 

‘Even the most simple investigation done well takes months,’ he said. ‘The time frame [for this investigation] has been compressed.’ 

Kindlon reiterated his claims that the blame for the horrific crash should lie on the intersection, which was notorious among locals for being a hot spot for accidents.

‘This road was a problem, a known problem to the state of New York,’ he said. ‘The state has done a wonderful job at pointing the camera at the Hussain family.’ 

‘Could there be some fault with Prestige? Could there be some fault here? Absolutely. Is it criminal? Absolutely not.’ 

‘What about the state of New York? Is this day meant as a distractor in terms of what the state of New York knew and when they knew it?’

‘They need to find out why New York chose to not fix this road when they had the opportunity.’ 

Locals revealed this week that the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A is notoriously dangerous, seeing four crashes since 2008.  

Lisinicchia blasted through a stop sign at the intersection and struck and killed two pedestrians in the parking lot of a popular store before crashing into a shallow ravine. 

Hussain’s attorney Lee Kindlon hit out at the NYSP during his own press conference in front of the headquarters. ‘My client is not guilty. The police jumped the gun,’ he told reporters

Kindlon said Hussain has received death threats since the accident took 20 lives and left three young children orphaned. 

‘He’s had death threats, people calling on him and hanging up. He’s had to change number three times,’ Kindlon said. 

‘I’m so very sorry for what has happened and so is this family, so is Prestige,’ he continued. 

‘Sisters and husbands gone, kids don’t have parents, parents don’t have kids anymore…there are no amount of words I can string together to express my apologies.’ 

Hussain met with State Police investigators for several hours on Monday, two days before his arrest. And it wasn’t his first scuffle with the law.

He was previously arrested alongside brother Shahyer in 2014 when they were stopped by police on Route 787 in Cohoes.

Authorities said neither brother had proper identification and both adamantly claimed that ‘they were each other’, according to the Albany Times Union. 

Police discovered that Shahyer had a revoked New York State driver’s license with 28 suspensions. Hussain had a valid license with an extensive suspension and conviction list that had been cleared. 

The brothers have been ticketed more than 70 times and Shahyer had used Hussain’s identity numerous times.  

Shahyer was charged with felony aggravated unlicensed operations and misdemeanor criminal impersonation and conspiracy. Hussain was charged with misdemeanor false personation and conspiracy.    

Meanwhile, troubling details continue to emerge about Prestige Limousines since Saturday’s horrific accident. 

Kindlon claims Prestige Limousines has always worked with the state to make sure its vehicles were ‘roadworthy’ and denies the 2001 Ford Excursion (pictured) led to the tragedy  

But in the last year alone, Prestige Limousines has been cited for 22 vehicle violations by state regulatory bodies. Above is its laundry list of violations which include not having proper anti-lock brake systems or properly functioning horns 

Kindlon claimed on Tuesday that the company has always worked with the state to make sure its vehicles were ‘roadworthy’.

‘Every single time the Department of Transportation investigator would come out and talk to the guys, any sort of minor infraction or major infraction would be fixed and the cars were allowed to be on the road,’ he said.

Kindlon said the company is currently looking into the fact that driver Scott Lisinicchia (pictured with his wife) was driving without the proper license for the vehicle

‘Just last week, they met with members from the Department of Transportation for ongoing inspections and the cars were cleared to be on the road.’

But the Department of Transportation hit back at Kindlon’s claims, calling them ‘categorically false’.

‘DOT issued multiple violations on this vehicle and barred it from being used as a commercial passenger transport vehicle,’ said spokesman Joseph Morrissey. 

‘The use of this vehicle is such a blatant breach of the law. This vehicle should not have been operating as a commercial vehicle on the road, period.’ 

Kindlon said the 2001 Ford Excursion failed its inspection last month due to ‘minor things’ like ‘windshield wipers’ and a ‘latch on a window that needed to be fixed’.

‘I don’t think that these infractions were what led to the tragedy,’ Kindlon told CBS News on Tuesday.  

But records reveal that the vehicle had been cited for numerous safety issues during three different inspections in March and September.  

In March the vehicle was cited for a whopping 14 safety violations and the DOT said the limo had to be taken out of service until the issues were fixed. 

Among the citations were the fact that 25 percent of the car’s brakes were defective, the rear emergency exits did not operate properly, and a hydraulic brake line was dangling and able to make contact with a tire.

A September inspection once again turned up a number of violations, and noted that many of the issues found in March had not been fixed.   

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration documents revealed the company has had to pull at least four cars out of service because they failed safety inspections in the last year.

That puts the company at a whopping 80 percent failure rate, compared to a national average of 20.72 percent. 

This is the motel Hussain runs in Gansevoort, New York, outside Saratoga Springs. He bought it in 2006 while working as an informant for the FBI 

All three vehicles currently owned by the company had violations when they were inspected last month, according to Department of Transportation records. 

Yet, just two days before the crash, the company listed the 2001 Ford Excursion for sale on Craigslist for $9,000. 

The online post did not include photos but said the vehicle was in excellent condition and ‘DOT ready’. Prestige only owned a single 2001 Ford Excursion. 

And although Lisinicchia had a CLD-A license, which allowed him to drive trucks, he did not have the necessary permit required to drive a car capable of carrying more than 15 passengers, according to the Albany Times Union. 

But Kindlon is arguing that it is ‘abundantly clear’ that the state is ‘trying to point fingers’ at Shahed and Prestige Limousines.

‘They’re looking for a scapegoat rather than waiting for the investigation to take place,’ he said. ‘Certainly it’s in their interest to point away from any failures on behalf of the state.’  

Cuomo confirmed on Monday that the state is seeking a cease-and-desist order so that Prestige cannot operate while it’s under investigation.

‘The owner of the company had no business putting a failed vehicle on the road,’ Cuomo said while speaking at the NYC Columbus Day Parade.

Family members of the victims have revealed they were also concerned by the state of the limo before it crashed on the way to a surprise 30th birthday party.

On Wednesday it was revealed that Lisinicchia (pictured picking up a wedding party in 2017) was cited for operating the same limo without a proper license by a state trooper in August

Just two days before the crash, the company listed the 2001 Ford Excursion for sale on Craigslist for $9,000 (pictured)

Cicero Richards, Lisinicchia’s stepson, branded Prestige’s fleet of five cars as ‘pieces of crap’. 

‘They were junk,’ Richards told the New York Daily News. ‘The last time I talked to him was 6 o’clock in the morning before (the crash) happened. We were talking and chatting and stuff and he said he didn’t really want to do the job.’

Prestige operates out of the low-budget Crest Inn Suites & Cottages in Gansevoort, which serves as transitional housing.  

And Crest Inn resident, Laken Prosser, who said Hussain once kept limos at the business, echoed Richards’ statements about the state of the cars.

‘There were like four or five limos. They were junky, very, very junky. I know they let people drink alcohol and do drugs in them because I found drugs in them,’ said Presser, who occasionally cleaned the cars.

Erin McGowan, one of the 18 people killed in the limo, had texted both her aunt and a friend about the state of the car, which also mowed down two pedestrians.

McGowan, who was killed alongside her new husband Shane, texted her aunt Valerie Abeling that the limo was in ‘terrible condition’.   

On Monday, more than 2,500 people gathered for a tearful vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash in Amsterdam, New York 

Photos captured many in the crowd turning to each other for comfort or sobbing as tributes to the victims were read out 

Abeling said the group had rented ‘some kind of bus’ to take them to the party venue, but it had broken down. The same company then sent a stretch limo to take the group the rest of the way to the Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown. 

McGowan then texted her friend Melissa Healey, and told her the motor was ‘making everyone deaf’, Healey told the New York Times. 

When Healey asked where they had rented the car, McGowan said she wasn’t sure. 

‘When we get to brewery we will all b deaf,’ she wrote. 

Andrew LaRose, who rode in the same limo last year on his wedding day, told News 12 that it belonged in a ‘scrap yard’.

LaRose, who was driven that day by Lisinicchia, said the limo made concerning noises when it accelerated and showed visible rust. 

He said Lisinicchia often left the wedding party stranded throughout the day and that he noticed ’empty beer cans in the back’ when he was picked up after the ceremony.  

LaRose contacted Hussain a few days later to complain, but said he acted like he ‘could have cared less’. 

Investigators are hoping the air bag control module, known as the limo’s ‘black box’, will help reveal more about the horrific crash. 

Hussain is shown here in footage obtained while he worked as an informant in the DMV after being caught running a scam where he secured unqualified drivers licenses for a fee 

Hussain is pictured in other undercover footage showing a rocket launcher to one of four men who were convicted on terror charges. He served as an informant for the FBI after being caught running a DMV scam 

On Monday, more than 2,500 people gathered for a tearful vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash in Amsterdam, New York.

The vigil spilled along the pedestrian bridge connecting the south and north sides of Amsterdam as family and friends were joined by elected leaders and members of the community.

‘There is so much pain here, in a very small part of the world,’ Rep Paul Tonko said, according to the Albany Times Union. ‘So much pain.’  

Photos captured many in the crowd turning to each other for comfort or sobbing as tributes to the victims were read out.

Many people hugged each other or wiped away tears as local officials spoke of the tragedy.

‘Some of us here don’t know any of the people. Some of us here know one or two. Many of you know a whole bunch of the people,’ Robert Purtell, Montgomery County Legislature Chairman, said to the crowd. 

‘But none of us will ever forget the lives of those lost.’

Cuomo announced on Tuesday that flags on New York state property will be lowered to half-staff to honor the victims, which included three state employees. 

The flags will be lowered from Thursday through the victim’s funerals.  

Sisters Allison King (back row, second from left) Abby Jackson (front left), Amy Steenburg (front right) and Mary Dyson (back row, on the right of Allison) were all killed in the crash. The group were on their way to a surprise 30th birthday for Steenburg (front right)

Abby Jackson and her husband Adam are seen, left. Her sister Amy, whose birthday it was, is pictured right with her husband Axel (on the left) and his brother Rich (right). Rich was also killed in the crash

Newlyweds Erin and Shane McGowan (pictured together) were among the 20 people who were killed in a horrific limousine crash in upstate New York on Saturday. They got married in June

One victim, Patrick Cushing, worked in the state Senate’s technology office. Another, Amy Steenburg, was a nurse who worked for the state Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs.

A third, Brian Hough, was an associate geology professor at the State University of New York at Oswego.

Amy was one of four sisters killed in the crash, which also took the lives of two pairs of newlyweds and a number of couples. 

Hough, one of the two pedestrians killed in the crash, perished alongside his father-in-law.    

The horrific crash occurred after the limousine blasted through a stop sign at the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A in Schoharie.

It then rammed into an unoccupied parked car at the popular Apple Barrel Country Store, hitting two pedestrians before it crashed into a shallow ravine. 

Authorities said only one person inside the limo survived the initial impact. They were pronounced dead at an Albany hospital.  

The accident happened around 2pm in Schoharie, upstate New York, at an intersection at the bottom of a hill which known locally as an accident hot spot. Witnesses inside the Apple Barrel Country Store, which was packed with visitors at the time, said the vehicle was going around 60mph at the time of the crash

Robert Dyson and his wife Mary, the oldest sister, were among the victims of the crash. The pair had been married since 2009 and had a young son. Sister Allison King (right) also died

Matthew Coons, a US Army veteran, and his girlfriend Savannah Devonne (both pictured left) also died in the tragic accident. Coons was a groomsman at Amy and Axel’s wedding. Patrick Cushing, Erin’s cousin, also died as did his girlfriend Amanda Halse (seen together right)

Ford confirmed to that the company does not make stretch limo versions of the Ford Excursion, meaning the one operated by Prestige was modified unofficially. 

Meanwhile, details have emerged of Shahed’s past ties to the FBI.

Amanda Rivenburg, a friend of Amy’s, was identified on Monday as a victim of the crash

Shahed arrived in the United States in 1994 after fleeing his native Pakistan where he had been arrested for murder.

After his father bribed local police to let him go, Shahed fled the country, using a British passport to leave Pakistan, enter Moscow and then travel to Mexico.

From Mexico, he entered the US through El Paso in Texas and then traveled to Albany.

Shahed then contacted an immigration lawyer who got him legal status by applying for political asylum, which enabled him to start working for the DMV as a translator.

There, Shahed started a racket where he offered prospective drivers guaranteed pass-marks in their road tests or safety quizzes for a fee by ensuring they went to corrupt examiners. In 2002, the FBI arrested him for the scam.

Rather than go to jail, Shahed took a plea deal which involved him working as a confidential informant and spent the next several years recording other conversations in the DMV for their benefit, incriminating his friends and colleagues.

Rachael Cavosie also perished in the tragic limousine accent on Saturday. Alyssa Cavosie, Rachael’s cousin, said she was a soul that ‘touched so many lives’

Michael Ukaj, 34, (left) was one of three veterans who died in Saturday’s horrific crash. Professor Brian Hough (right) and his father-in-law were the two pedestrians killed

Four years later, after filing bankruptcy and buying his son an Audi with money he claimed he’d been given by Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, he bought the hotel in Gansevoort which became the Crest Inn. 

Shahed then was put to work by the FBI to infiltrate mosques, specifically in Newburgh, New York, and look for what he described as ‘radicals’. The FBI paid him a salary of $96,000 for the work.

His work in the Newburgh mosques, particularly the Masjid al-Ikhlas led, in part to the arrests of James Comitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen.  

They plotted to plant bombs at synagogues in the Bronx – Riverdale Temple and nearby Riverdale Jewish Center – and they also plotted to shoot down military planes at Stewart Air National Guard Base.  

However valuable his undercover work was, Shahed came under scrutiny as a witness and reliable informant during the trial when it was suggested he had turned off his recording equipment during crucial moments of conversation with the suspects.

There were also claims of entrapment and even the judge who convicted the four men ruled in her verdict that Shahed’s behavior as an informant was ‘troubling’.

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