Lawyers for Nauman Hussain, DA, meet with judge to decide trial date for limo accident


SCHOHARIE – Limousine company operator Nauman Hussain will stand trial on May 1 on charges that accuse him of renting a dangerously damaged stretch limo which crashed on October 6, 2018 in Schoharie, killing 20 people.

State Supreme Court Justice Peter Lynch said Wednesday he had set a trial date for next spring after District Attorney Susan Mallery requested more time to prepare the now-aged case. almost 4 years for the trial. Lynch made the decision years after Mallery told the previous judge and Hussain’s attorney that she was ready for trial.

Lynch’s decision came two weeks after he launched a plea deal in the case that would have spared Hussain, 32, from serving time in state prison.

Lawyers for Hussain, Mallery and Lynch met Wednesday morning to set a trial date. Hussain’s attorneys, Lee Kindlon of Albany and Chad Seigel of New York, met via video conference because they had previously had scheduling conflicts and were unable to attend the in-person hearing at County Court in Schoharie. Nauman and his girlfriend were in court with his brother Haris and a bodyguard.

Lynch, who was assigned to the case after Schoharie County Judge George R. Barlett III retired, said he was taking “jurisdiction” of the case through its resolution.

The judge originally planned to start a trial this year, but said Hussain’s attorneys had scheduling conflicts with the Oct. 31 and Dec. 5 dates he had proposed. Mallery, he said, then sent her a letter saying she needed more time to prepare for trial, so he set the May date.

“That basically gives everyone about six months to prepare this case for trial,” Lynch said.

Lynch said he would not accept any unnecessary delays.

It’s unclear why Mallery isn’t ready for trial just yet, though the state attorney general’s office previously told the Times Union that Mallery previously declined help with the case. Local prosecutors have also offered to help.

Hussain, 32, operated the unlicensed limo company that rented the vehicle which crashed in rural Schoharie County killing the driver, 17 passengers heading for a rally in Cooperstown and two bystanders standing in the parking lot of a local store where the vehicle crashed in October. 6. 2018.

Hussain, whose family ran the small limo business from their hotel in Wilton, was charged with 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide and 20 counts of second-degree manslaughter. A year ago, Hussain reached a plea deal with prosecutors that spared him jail time in exchange for an admission that his failure to maintain repairs on the stretch limousine led to the accident.

Schoharie Limo Accident: Key Coverage

The case took a dramatic turn on August 31 when Lynch rejected a previous plea deal that had been negotiated with Bartlett.

Under the deal, Hussain had accepted five years of probation in exchange for pleading guilty to 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide in the case. However, Lynch said the deal was flawed and he couldn’t accept it.

The families of the victims had been upset since last September, when Bartlett accepted the plea deal. However, Bartlett retired before formal sentencing could take place after Hussain completed a year of provisional probation. Hussain had agreed to two years of provisional probation, but state law allows that only in certain circumstances not covered in this case.

Hussain was required to complete 1,000 hours of community service under the plea deal, of which about 600, according to Kindlen, had been completed. Part of this work was supposed to include public appearances.

Because of this, Lynch said anything Hussain had said publicly over the past year was “not admissible” in court. It is unclear what Hussain may have said during his community service. He has declined to speak at any of his hearings in the past year.

Kindlon and Seigel said they would focus their defense strategy at trial on fault for the crash on Mavis Discount Tire, which serviced the limo, a 34-foot Ford Excursion that weighed more than six tons. The cause of the accident was blamed on bad brakes, and Hussain’s lawyers alleged that Mavis had failed to repair the brakes properly when Hussain had it repaired after he was ordered off the road in March 2018 by a State Department of Transportation investigator. The DOT failed the vehicle after a road safety check.


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