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Judge Rejects Plea Agreement in Deadly Car Crash

A judge threw out a plea deal reached last year that would have meant no prison time for the operator of a limousine company involved in the deadliest U.S. transportation disaster in a decade, the Associated Press reports. Catching lawyers and victims' relatives off-guard, State Supreme Court Justice Peter Lynch called the plea deal over an upstate New York crash that killed 20 people "fundamentally flawed" after hearing family members testify about their grief and anger over a lack of accountability. Lynch gave defendant Nauman Hussain’s lawyers the choice of accepting a sentence of 1 1/3 to four years in prison or withdrawing his guilty plea. They chose the latter.


Hussain's driver and 19 passengers and bystanders were killed in Schoharie, N.Y., in 2018 when the brakes on a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine failed and it hurtled down a hill. While the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the crash was likely caused by Prestige Limousine’s “egregious disregard for safety” that resulted in brake failure, the board said ineffective state oversight contributed. Family members attending the hearing broke into applause after Lynch made his ruling. Kevin Cushing, who lost his son Patrick in the crash, said the families “have a hope for a bit of justice to be served in the future, where we didn’t have any justice served in the past.” Hussain had been charged with 20 counts each of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter. The rejected agreement called for Hussain to plead guilty just to the homicide counts, which would give him five years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service. District Attorney Susan Mallery left court without commenting.

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