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Judge blocks sale of Hussain properties

Judge blocks sale of Hussain properties

Fear is that case assets could be transferred outside the United States
Judge blocks sale of Hussain properties
The Crest Inn and Suites in Wilton is owned by the Hussain family.
Photographer: Erica Miller

BALLSTON SPA -- A state Supreme Court judge has temporarily blocked the Hussain family from selling four properties that members own in the Capital Region over fears they will be sold to reduce the family assets available to victims of last year's Schoharie limousine crash.

Judge Thomas Buchanan, sitting in Saratoga County, granted a temporary order to the estate of Amanda Halse that the properties not be sold. Halse was one of the 20 people killed in the Oct. 6, 2018 crash at state routes 30 and 30A in Schoharie. The estate is suing the Hussains for negligence and wrongful death.

A hearing on making the court's hold on the properties permanent will be held Thursday in state Supreme Court in Ballston Spa.

The Hussain family owns the former Crest Inn Suites and Cottages in Wilton and three residential properties in Saratoga Springs, Troy and Rensselaer. A corporation linked to them owns six other properties in Troy, Waterford and Rensselaer, according to the court petition.

The residential properties listed as owned by Shahed or Naumann Hussain are all currently listed as for sale, and the Crest Inn was said to be close to a $1 million private sale prior to the state Health Department and town of Wilton shutting it down and condemning the buildings last Friday for health code and other violations.

Attorneys for crash victims fear the properties could be sold, and any money received from the sales transferred outside the United States, putting it beyond the reach of any judgments reached in New York state courts. Shahed Hussain is a native of Pakistan and may currently be living there.

The temporary order applies to Shahed Hussain, who uses a variety of alias, according to court papers; his son, Nauman; and Malik Riaz Hussain, who may be Shahed's brother. Malik Hussain lives in Pakistan, while Shahed Hussain has not been in the United States since approximately March 2018, according to court papers.

The Hussains "have reason to frustrate any potential recovery of the Petitioner and other victims by moving the proceeds of any real estate and/or business sale outside of the United States to Pakistan or another foreign location," Halse estate attorney George E. LaMarche III of Albany wrote in a court filing.

Shahed Hussain is the owner of Prestige Limousine and Chauffeur Services of Wilton, which owned the aging 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine involved in the Schoharie crash. His son, Nauman, was day-to-day operator of the company.

Nauman Hussain faces 20 charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in connection with the crash, which killed the driver, 17 adult passengers being transported to a birthday celebration in Cooperstown, and two pedestrians in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store. Prosecutors contend that the limousine suffered catastrophic brake failure while coming down a long hill on Route 30, and that the failure was due to improper maintenance on the brakes and other mechanical systems.

While Nauman Hussain faces criminal charges, nearly a dozen civil lawsuits have also been filed against him, the limo company, and Shahed and Malik Hussain, based on wrongful death and allegations that the limousine was kept on the road even though Nauman Hussain knew it was unsafe. Lawyers handling the civil cases believe the company's insurance and other assets will be insufficent to cover the possible civil judgments.

"The petitioner certainly has concerns that [the Hussains] may seek to assign, dispose of, encumber, or secret these properties to frustrate the enforcement of a judgment that might be rendered," LaMarche wrote in a motion to the court.

The hearing is tentatively slated for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Saratoga County Courthouse in Ballston Spa.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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