In one of the deadliest American traffic accidents in 20 years, a limousine service manager was found guilty on Wednesday of manslaughter in a disaster that left 20 people dead in upstate New York.
On the second day of deliberations in the trial of Nauman Hussain, the owner of Prestige Limousine, the jury decided. At his May 31 sentence, he could get up to 15 years in prison.
When Hussain learned the judgment, he appeared sad. The man was detained. His attorney was contacted for a response.
As the jury was dismissed, the audience began to applaud.
The stretch SUV, carrying a large group of birthday partygoers, ran off the road in 2018 when its brakes failed.
In Schoharie, a community west of Albany, the extensive limousine crashed into a parked car and some trees before resting in a streambed.
The driver, seventeen passengers, and two spectators were all murdered.
According to the prosecution, Hussain purposefully skipped doing the mandatory, regular state inspections on the 2001 Ford Excursion, which would have revealed braking issues and prevented the collision.
Lee Kindlon, Hussain’s attorney, claimed that a repair company had misled his client. The store denied being at fault and was not charged criminally.
For the victims’ relatives, Wednesday’s verdict represented a turning point in an emotional rollercoaster.
The news of a plea offer for Hussain in 2021 angered the relatives after pandemic-related delays in the criminal case. Hussain would have avoided prison time under the accord.
A judge unexpectedly rejected the settlement last November, forcing the trial to be held a few miles away from the scene of the tragedy.
A former repair shop manager, bystanders who witnessed the collision, and a state Department of Transportation inspector who had previously reported the SUV-style limousine for violations were among the witnesses called during the trial.
The defense did not present any witnesses.