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Mavis manager tells investigators limo records were falsified

October 10, 2019 05:59 PM

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles tells NewsChannel 13 they are now looking into claims made by a former employee of Mavis Discount Tire in connection with the Schoharie limo crash.

DMV released the following statement to NewsChannel 13:

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"The Vehicle and Traffic Law allows DMV, after a hearing, to address a violation of the repair shop and inspection station laws by a fine of up to $750 per violation and/or revocation or suspension of the business license for fraudulent practices.  The first we learned of these repair shop allegations was in media reports yesterday and we will be pursuing them to the fullest extent of our authority.  DMV had not previously taken administrative action against Mavis at the request of the District Attorney."

The former manager of a Mavis Discount Tire garage told investigators that invoices for work performed on the stretch limousine in the deadly 2018 Schoharie crash were falsified. That was initially reported by the Times Union.

New documents NewsChannel 13 obtained show a recent interview with the former manager of the Mavis in Saratoga Springs.

Twenty people were killed when the limo crashed on Oct. 6, 2018.

STATEMENT FROM MAVIS SPOKESPERSON

"Many of the statements attributed to Mr. Virgil Park, a former Mavis employee, in the October 7 letter, as well as those made by Mr. Nauman Hussain's criminal defense attorneys in the October 8 letter, are inaccurate or misleading.  

Mavis is committed to providing high quality, safe, affordable services to our customers. Our service and billing policies are honest, fair and sound and we vehemently disagree with any allegations to the contrary.  Mr. Hussain and his criminal defense lawyers are attempting to falsely attack Mavis in a desperate diversion tactic to shift responsibility away from Mr. Hussain, where it solely belongs.

The vehicle in question traveled more than a thousand miles over several months since it was serviced at Mavis. During that time, Mr. Hussain, according to the District Attorney's Office and the New York State Police, committed serious crimes by, among other things, defying an order to take the vehicle out of service.

Our thoughts and condolences remain with the victims of this tragic accident. Mavis did not cause the accident, however, and bears no legal responsibility for it. Mavis continues to fully cooperate with authorities as a witness in the criminal case against Mr. Hussain."

According to that interview, an invoice from May 2018 shows a brake master cylinder had been installed in the limo. Investigators learned from that former employee that was not the case and the part had actually been returned to the auto parts store it was originally purchased from.

The defense team for Nauman Hussain; the business operator of the Limousine Company connected to the deadly crash says this new information that Mavis allegedly fraudulently billed customers for services it did not perform further exonerates their client and is the true legal cause of the accident.  Attorneys for Hussain, Joseph Tacopina and Chad Seigel wrote the court they want the indictment dismissed in its entirety.  "Despite billing for the preceding services, Mavis never performed them.  Stated otherwise, Mavis's fraudulent conduct-not anything undertaken by defendant Nauman Hussain-was the true legal cause of the accident.  As a reminder, and as set forth in the defense's motion to dismiss dated September 4, 2019, the accident, according to the People, was the product of "catastrophic brake failure" – i.e. meaning a failure of the very braking system which Mavis fraudulently claimed to have serviced," Tacopina and Seigel wrote in response to a letter District Attorney Susan Mallery shared with them on Monday. 

NewsChannel 13 caught up with Hussain's other defense attorney, Albany based Lee Kindlon.  "If they had performed even the most basic brake job which again our clients paid for and had thought they been performed, this accident probably would not have happened," Kindlon stated.

"What the District Attorney now has proof of is that somebody else very deliberately did something that caused the crash. They have had this information for weeks and what is even more striking is that Mavis very clearly did not perform a brake job and what is most shocking to me as a parent, as someone who drives the streets is how many more times this might have happened? That is the giant question that needs to be answered," Kindlon reiterated outside his office around Noon Wednesday.

Ex-Mavis employee Virgil Park also telling authorities September 17, 2019, he gave the NYS DMV Inspector Certification card to someone else to perform the inspection on the 2001 Ford Excursion Street limousine that had been stretched 144 inches. Park also revealed to investigators that services at Mavis were sometimes substituted on invoices to meet sales quotas. Three-and-a-half months shy of the tragedy a Mavis invoice indicates brake labor was done. But, it turns out according to Park that wasn't true. Neither reportedly was work outlined on another May 2018 invoice, which falsely reports a brake master cylinder was installed. Atty. Paul Davenport filed suit against Mavis, Hussain and his father Shahed Hussain; the limo company owner in late august. He represents the estates of victims Erin and Shane McGowan.

Davenport told WNYT, "We felt from the beginning that Mavis played a significant role in allowing this limo to remain on the road.  These revelations if true, again if true confirm that original belief really show the depth of Mavis' wrongdoing in inspecting and allegedly repairing the limo."  Davenport adding, "When these things come out it just adds additional level to pain to these families that's why we started the lawsuit we wanted to move toward a conclusion.  We want to find everyone who was involved in this tragic accident and hold them accountable and hopefully it gives these families some peace, some justice."

In terms of the civil action, Attorney Davenport stated, "I still think they were negligent in regards to this limo.  I don't think this renders them blameless in regards to the condition of the limo." 

NewsChannel 13 asked Defense Attorney Lee Kindlon if his client should still bare part of the blame, "no he is 100 percent innocent.  I said that a year ago when he was arrested and dragged into that court room and as we walked out of court that night, I've said it every day since then and I say it today, he is 100 percent completely innocent."

Credits

Jill Konopka

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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