The operator of the limousine company involved in the fatal crash in Schoharie was arrested and arraigned and is now a free man.
Police said Nauman Hussain, of Cohoes, was taken into custody by state police during a controlled traffic stop along 787 around 11 a.m. Wednesday.
He was charged with one count of Criminally Negligent Homicide in connection to the October 6 fatal limo crash in Schoharie. Twenty people lost their lives.
Legal experts said he is currently being charged with one count because the crash is considered one occurrence.
During his arraignment in Cobleskill Town Court, the judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, and he posted $150,000 bond.
Hussain was working for his father’s Prestige Limousine company. His father is currently in Pakistan, and Hussain was in charge of the day-to-day operations when the limo crash occurred.
The 17-year-old limo was cited by the Department of Transportation twice this year for violations which included issues with the brakes. The vehicle was not allowed on the road.
NYSP also said the company was told the driver did not have the license to operate that kind of limo.
Family attorney Lee Kindlon said Hussain is innocent and tried to diminish his client’s control of the company and also shifted blame to state agencies.
Following the arraignment, Kindlon spoke to the press to debunk speculation his client was trying to flee the country when he was arrested as it was alleged he had his bags packed in the car.
“You can imagine what people would say in a situation like this,” Kindlon said. “I will not give dignity to those individuals who would think they have some sort of power over this case.”
He said Hussain was only attempting to get away from his home since his address was made public. Kindlon said the family has received death threats.
“He felt as though he could be in danger at that house, so at that moment, he was just leaving and didn’t really have a plan other than getting away,” Kindlon said.
Kindlon also stressed that Hussain is a U.S. citizen and will be turning over his passport in good faith.
If Hussain is found guilty, the Criminal Negligent charge holds a penalty of up to four years.The charge, however, is preliminary and there could be more to come if the case is eventually taken to a grand jury.
He will be back in court on October 23.