Nauman Hussain answers questions on ill-fated business for first time

ALBANY — Nauman Hussain, the local limo operator who admitted to criminal negligence in the 2018 Choharie limo crash that killed 20 people, has finally broken his silence on the case, at least in the court system.

Earlier this month, Hussain, 32, was questioned via Zoom by an attorney representing the families of the victims of the horrific crash in their civil lawsuits against him and some of his family members.

It was the first time that Hussain has been subjected to any substantial questioning under oath since his 2019 indictment by a Schoharie County grand jury on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for renting out the stretch Ford Excursion limo involved in the crash after it had been ordered off the road due to bad brakes and numerous safety violations.

Nauman Hussain ended up being offered a five-year probation sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide. Although the deal meant there was no trial, it freed up Hussain to testify in the civil lawsuits.

Hussain didn’t speak at all about his responsibility in the crash — the Feb. 11 video deposition was limited to questions about whether or not his wealthy uncle in Pakistan, Malik Riaz Hussain, had financed his family’s limo business. Hussain is expected to face longer and more in-depth questioning during a deposition that will be held later.

But Hussain did reveal for the first time interesting details about the role he played managing the businesses of his father, Shahed Hussain, a longtime undercover informant for the FBI’s anti-terrorism task force who operated a small limousine service out of a ramshackle motel in the town of Wilton.

Shahed Hussain started the limo operation, Prestige Limousine and Chauffeur Service, in 2012. Shahed Hussain would often travel overseas for his FBI work and for personal business, often leaving his two sons to take charge. Their mother died in 2013.

Nauman Hussain also started two additional limo companies of his own, Saratoga Luxury Limousine and Hasy Limousine, both of which prosecutors and officials with the state Department of Transportation have said were other names that Nauman Hussain would use to market Prestige.

However, in his deposition, Nauman Hussain testified that Saratoga Luxury and Hasy Limousine were in fact just referral services for people looking to rent a limo.

“We didn’t own any vehicles,” Nauman Hussain testified. “We had, like, it was a call-in service. It was just a website, and it was almost like a brokerage service. I would say, like, to offer rides to companies, um, either to Prestige or to other companies in the area. So, it was a call-in service.”

Later on in the same line of questioning, Nauman Hussain again repeated that Saratoga Luxury and Hasy Limousine did not actually own any vehicles and had no physical location because it was just a “call-in” service.

“You know, it was a middle man just to get calls in for customers that were looking for bookings for rides, and then we would broker it to companies that own vehicles,” Nauman Hussain said.

Nauman Hussain’s explanation of Saratoga Luxury and Hasy Limousine is interesting because, until now, prosecutors and state and federal convics have said that it was Nauman Hussain who ran Prestige Limousine for his father, who left the country in March 2018, seven months before the crash .

In fact, just five weeks before the Oct. 6, 2018, crash, Nauman Hussain wrote on a US Department of Transportation application that Prestige also operated under the names of Saratoga Luxury and Hasy Limousine.


Also, in the wake of the crash, it was Hasy Limousine that refunded the credit card account of Axel Steenburg of Amsterdam, who had rented the Excursion for his wife’s 30th birthday celebration with 15 of their friends.

The limo, which was supposed to take the group to Cooperstown, crashed into a restaurant parking lot going more than 100 mph after its brakes failed on a steep part of Route 30. All aboard the Excursion, including the driver, died, along with two bystanders.

In the deposition, Nauman Hussain also appeared to debunk the idea that his uncle, Malik Riaz Hussain, had any financial interest or knowledge of the limousine business, even though he had rescued a business owned by his younger brother, Shahed, in 2010 by paying off his motel’s mortgage and putting the deed in his name. It was at a time when Shahed and his late wife were going through financial problems.

Malik Riaz Hussain, who owns one of Pakistan’s largest residential real estate development company, is listed as a defendant in the civil lawsuits filed against the Hussains by the families of the crash victims. But he has sought to have his name removed from the lawsuits, arguing he had no knowledge of, or a financial stake in, his brother’s small limo operation.

Nauman Hussain said he had no knowledge that his uncle had ever known about the limo business or gave his father money to buy the vehicles, which were stored at the time of the crash outside of a warehouse just off the Adirondack Northway in Saratoga Springs.

In fact, Nauman said that he was informed in 2017 in a phone call with his father Shahed that his uncle Malik Riaz was gifting the motel back to Nauman and his older brother Haris.

“He was overseas somewhere,” Nauman said, referring to his father, Shahed. “Honestly, I can’t recall which country he was in at that point.”

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