Man who owned limo in fatal N.Y. crash had informed on terrorists for FBI
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The aging limousine that crashed Saturday in New York killing 20, was operated by a company with a record of failed inspections – and an owner who was a controversial FBI informant.
The 2001 Ford Excursion was operated by Prestige Limousine, a small company that shares an address with a run-down motel in the Saratoga County, New York, town of Wilton, just north of tony Saratoga Springs.
The company is owned by Shahed Hussain, whose backstory includes numerous stints as an undercover informant for the FBI.
Authorities said Hussain, 62, is in his native Pakistan at present. Other company executives have pledged to cooperate with the investigation.
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Asked whether Hussain is under criminal investigation, New York State Police Major Robert Patnaude said anyone found to be criminally culpable will be “held accountable.”
Hussain is the registered owner of four livery companies that share the same Wilton address – Prestige Limousine, Chauffeur Service Saratoga, Luxury Limousine and Hasy Limousine. The companies’ mailing address is in Gansevoort, a nearby hamlet.
Prestige in Saratoga County is a separate business from other limo companies in New York that have the same or similar names.
Lawyer confirms FBI informant status
Albany-area lawyer Dana Salazar, who represented Shahed Hussain in a civil action against Saratoga County that revolved around the Saratoga Road motel property, verified Monday that her client had indeed been the celebrated informant.
Hussain emigrated from Pakistan in the early 1990s, fleeing a murder charge that he later said was trumped up, according to news reports. He worked as a translator for the New York state Department of Motor Vehicles but was caught helping people cheat on DMV exams in return for money.
He later was accused of making fraudulent statements in a personal bankruptcy case as well.
Hussain pleaded guilty to a felony in relation to the DMV scam but avoided prison and deportation by becoming an informant, working in New York’s Muslim communities to find people who had radical tendencies.
His undercover work led to the 2006 conviction of two men in Albany who were accused of expressing interest in buying a shoulder-fired missile. Civil liberties groups questioned the tactics used by the FBI and its informant, however.
When Hussain was sentenced in 2006 for the DMV scam, a federal judge spared him additional prison time after prosecutors argued he had provided “substantial assistance” in the Albany terrorism sting as well as a drug and fraud case in which 12 defendants were convicted.
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