SCHOHARIE — Limousine company operator Nauman Hussain will plead guilty to 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide in the 2018 Schoharie limo disaster, but avoid prison under an agreement announced Thursday morning.
The announcement came two hours before he was scheduled to potentially enter his plea. The 1 p.m. proceeding was moved from the Schoharie County Courthouse to Schoharie High School because many friends and relatives of the 20 victims were expected to attend.
The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 1⅓ to 4 years in prison but all 20 counts would have been served concurrently because they all resulted from the same failure to properly maintain the limo.
Under terms of the agreement, Hussain will be required to serve a two-year interim term of probation during which he must perform 1,000 hours of community service. Upon successful completion, he will be sentenced to five years of probation.
Hussain had been charged with 20 counts each of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, one for each of the 20 people killed in the Oct. 6, 2018, crash at the intersection of state routes 30 and 30A. A Watertown couple, Mary E. Dyson, 33, and Robert J. Dyson, 34, parents of a 2-year-old son, were killed in the crash.
On that afternoon nearly three years ago, Prestige Limousine of Wilton was hired to take a party of 17 friends in their 20s and early 30s from Amsterdam to Cooperstown for a birthday outing.
As the driver and 17 passengers were heading down the steep Route 30 hill into the Schoharie Valley, the brakes apparently failed.
The limo hurtled through a stop sign at the bottom of the hill at an estimated 100 mph and crashed into a parked car and an embankment, killing everyone aboard and two bystanders.
It was the deadliest transportation accident the nation had seen in a decade.