The Muslim owner of the Prestige Limousine that crashed in Schoharie, killing 18 people on board, including the driver and two pedestrians, is a former FBI informant (convicted of federal fraud charges) who testified in two high-profile Islamic terrorism cases, a state official confirmed Monday.
Times Union (h/t RF) Shahed Hussain (photo below) owns Prestige Limousine in Wilton, the official said. The limousine company is being scrutinized as federal and state investigators try to determine what caused the crash.
According to Metroforensics, the driver of the limo was a Muslim, too. (But there has been no confirmation of this yet). The limo was speeding as it was approaching the stop sign. It made no effort to brake, as if the driver wanted to crash. The limo driver then hit two pedestrians and crashed into the woods in the creek. Again, no braking signs whatsoever.
UPDATE: Driver of limo has been identified as Scott Lisinicchia, 53.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said the limo involved in Saturday’s crash at the intersection of Route 30A and Route 30 in Schoharie failed a state Department of Transportation inspection last month and should not have been on the road. The driver, Cuomo said, did not have a proper license to operate the vehicle.
Prestige Limousine shares a business address with the Crest Inn Suites & Cottages in Wilton, a motel that is also owned by Hussain. Hussain lived at the motel but on Monday morning, the manager of the motel, Arnie Cornett, said Hussain moved about 18 months ago. He still owns the motel and continues to operate the limo company. An official said Hussain owns the business but the limo service might be operated by one of his relatives.
Hussain went to work for the FBI after being convicted of federal fraud charges in 2002 in Albany. He was taking payments from immigrants, some of whom could not read English, in a scheme to cheat on state exams to obtain driver’s licenses.
Hussain went by the name “Malik” when he owned a home in Loudonville and was used by the FBI in Albany to infiltrate a Central Avenue mosque. Yassin Aref, an Iraqi refugee, was imam of the mosque and the main target of the sting that began in 2003.
Aref and an acquaintance, Mohammed Hussain, a Bangladeshi immigrant who owned a pizza shop, were both arrested in 2004 and accused of laundering money for Hussain in connection with a fictitious terror plot. They were convicted in 2006 and both sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
In May 2009, Hussain again surfaced as an FBI informant when four men from Newburgh were charged with conspiring to plant explosives outside the Riverdale Jewish Center and Riverdale Temple in New York City. As in the Albany case, Hussain posed as a wealthy businessman and befriended the men before implicating them in a terror plot.
The four Newburgh men were convicted but the FBI’s use of Hussain drew harsh criticism and raised entrapment questions.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records on Prestige Limousine show that the company had two drivers and three vehicles. A total of five inspections were done of the company’s vehicles over the past 25 months, and 4 were taken out of service as a result, which is a rate of 80 percent failure. The national average is 20 percent.