Fatal Party Crash
The scene at Route 30 and Route 30A in Schoharie, New York on Oct. 8, 2018, where a limousine car accident kill 17 passengers plus the driver and an additional 2 pedestrians on Saturday.
Ricky Flores/The Journal News

ALBANY, N.Y. – The son of the owner of limousine company in the crash that killed 20 people on Saturday was arrested Wednesday by state police and charged with criminally negligent homicide.

Nauman Hussain was taken into custody earlier Wednesday morning and charged with the class C felony, state police said. The operator of Prestige Limo was stopped on Interstate 787 near Albany.

Hussain ran the Saratoga County limousine company owned by his father, Shahed Hussain, who was in Pakistan at the time of the crash.

"My client is not guilty. Police jumped the gun in bringing charges," Lee Kindlon, Hussain's attorney, told reporters.

State police said Monday that the crash, the nation's worst in nine years,  was being investigated as a criminal case as questions about the condition of the 2001 Ford Excursion limousine have drawn heavy scrutiny.

State police confirmed Wednesday that the limousine's driver, Scott Lisinicchia, had been stopped by a state trooper in Saratoga Springs in late August after he had driven 11 people in the same vehicle and cited for operating it without a proper license.

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State police said the trooper advised both the driver and the company that Lisinicchia could not operate the vehicle without additional licensure.

"The trooper also took steps to ensure that the vehicle was taken off the road, returned to its original location and directed the driver not to drive the vehicle," state police said.

But police said the trooper did not have the legal authority to seize the plates or the vehicle during that stop.

The limousine failed two state inspections, in March and again in September, the state Department of Transportation said.

After the failed inspection Sept. 4, the state affixed a sticker taking the vehicle out of service, the DOT said.

But Lisinicchia was still driving  when the crash occurred on a rural road in Schoharie that killed him, 17 passengers and two bystanders at a country store at the scene.

Shahed Hussain, the company's owner, was once an undercover informant for the FBI.

New York state’s criminal procedure law says a charge of criminally negligent homicide accuses a person of engaging in “blameworthy conduct so serious that it creates or contributes to a substantial and unjustifiable risk that another person's death will occur."

The crime is punishable by up to four years in prison if convicted, but sentencing guidelines allow for lighter penalties, including probation.

Hussain was expected to be arraigned Wednesday.