SCHOHARIE — The son of the owner of Prestige Limousine, arrested in the days after last October’s limousine crash that killed 20 people, was indicted Friday on a total of 40 counts related to the deaths, Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery told reporters late Friday.
Nauman Hussein, 28, of Cohoes, faces 20 counts of second-degree manslaughter and 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide, one count of each for every victim.
“We have worked extremely hard for the last six months,” Mallery told reporters, referring to the efforts of the state police and her office leading up to the indictment, according to CBS6.
The district attorney declined to discuss the case further.
“At this point, I think the only thing that we’ll say is we’ve handed up the indictment. I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss the case,” Mallery said.
Hussein is due to be arraigned on the indictment Wednesday. His attorney, Lee Kindlon, on Friday said he had not been formally given a copy of the indictment by the court or the DA’s office, and has only seen it through the media. But he questioned it, saying it rests upon dueling theories in the case: a reckless theory for the manslaughter counts and negligence theory for the criminally negligent homicide counts.
The indictment, he said, is “fundamentally at odds with itself.”
“In hoping to get something to stick, the DA just threw out whatever she could and we have this — this was the result,” Kindlon said.
“We’ll go to court next week, say ‘not guilty’ and defend him vigorously,” Kindlon said.
The Oct. 6 crash at the intersection of state routes 30 and 30A killed all 17 passengers inside the limo, the limo driver and two pedestrians in the parking lot of a nearby store.
The 17 passengers in the limo were en route from Amsterdam to Cooperstown to celebrate a birthday.
The limo, however, should never have been on the road, according to state police. The 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine should have been taken out of service based on brake issues identified in a September inspection, they said.
The investigation found the “sole responsibility for that vehicle being on the road was Nauman Hussain’s,” state police Superintendent George Beach told reporters at the time.
The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to reach a conclusion on the cause of the crash, according to a report it issued in January.
Criminally negligent homicide is defined as causing someone’s death by acting in a manner that was reckless, inattentive or careless. The maximum sentence for the charge is four years in state prison.
Second-degree manslaughter is defined as recklessly causing the death of another person. The maximum sentence for that is 5 to 15 years.
A jury could not convict on both sets of charges due to the different theories, Kindlon argued. Convictions on either sets of charges, however, could bring possible consecutive time for each of the deaths.
Regardless, Kindlon said he believes sentencing won’t be an issue.
“Through all of our investigation, we haven’t found any sort of criminal liability at all, so regardless of the legal arguments, I think factually, he’s going to be absolved of any wrongdoing.”