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Schoharie DA: Info from ex-Mavis employee doesn't exonerate limo owner

Nauman Hussain Nauman Hussain | Photo: File / WNYT.

Jill Konopka
Updated: October 16, 2019 11:50 PM
Created: October 16, 2019 06:50 PM

The district attorney in Schoharie is firing back to a letter from Nauman Hussain's attorneys filed last week.

District Attorney Susan Mallery says information from an ex-Mavis Saratoga employee interviewed last month does not "remotely exonerate" defendant Nauman Hussain. He's the operator of the limousine company charged with manslaughter and vehicular homicide in the deaths of 20 people killed in the stretch limousine crash one year ago. 

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Virgil Park told investigators records were falsified on work that was supposedly done to the limo prior to the crash. If those statements were found to be accurate, Mallery says neither the master cylinder nor the lack of a brake system flush contributed to the catastrophic brake failure that led to the deadly crash…" adding what the state found through its expert report were "pre-existing deficiencies."

The defense released the following statement:

The District Attorney’s letter of today claiming that "the defense generally makes false and inaccurate assertions about what was disclosed" regarding Mavis fails to recognize that the defense’s assertions quoted verbatim the information provided by the District Attorney itself.  The District Attorney now seeks to minimize such information to further its unwarranted prosecution of Nauman Hussain by describing Mavis’s invoices as simply containing "inaccuracies."  However, its earlier disclosure made clear that its own investigation uncovered "a billing practice at Mavis in which certain services were substituted on invoices for the ones actually performed, in the store to meet sales quotas established by the corporate office."  If true, that is not simply an inaccuracy.  Rather, it is the apparent hallmark of fraud.  That is why the District Attorney revealed such information under the Constitutional mandate that requires that it to disclose all favorable evidence to the defense.

The District Attorney’s present claim to the contrary ignores critical facts in an effort to distract from the main issue in this matter – what legally caused the limousine’s catastrophic brake failure to occur.  To be sure, despite the District Attorney’s contention, the catastrophic brake failure did not directly result from an out-of-service sticker, which had nothing to do with the vehicle’s brake system.  Instead, it directly resulted from a failure of the brakes themselves which, according to the District Attorney’s prior letter, Mavis falsely claimed on an invoice to have serviced.  For the District Attorney to now say that "the lack of a system brake flush" did not cause the failure of the brakes turns a blind eye to reality.  That is why, apart from making such a misguided conclusory statement, the District Attorney’s letter offers no support for it.  Of course Mavis’s failure to service the brakes properly would cause the brakes to not function properly. 

Rather than falsely accusing an innocent man, the community would be better served if the District Attorney focused its intention on Mavis’s alleged fraudulent billing practices, which is apparently the true direct cause of this tragic accident.  The District Attorney, according to its letter, seeks to take credit for doing so by touting its willingness to "cooperate with any entity with authority to investigate these allegations" and the fact that the DMV is already investigating such practices.  Yet, that misleading self-adulation obviously ignores the DMV’s prior statement that it "first learned of these shop allegations [ ]in media reports" – not from the District Attorney – and that it had "not previously taken administrative action against Mavis at the request of the District Attorney."  Instead of making empty statements concerning it not condoning alleged fraudulent billing practices, we would have hoped the District Attorney would have acted upon the information it uncovered to pursue charges against those actually responsible for the limousine’s catastrophic break failure – and not Mr. Hussain. 


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