New York Limo Crash: Company Owner Was FBI Informant from Pakistan, Records Suggest

The man who owns the limousine company involved in the upstate New York crash that killed 20 people is likely an FBI informant from Pakistan, reports suggest.

Prestige Limousine in Gansevoort, New York, is owned by Shahed Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant to the U.S. Citing public records, The New York Times reported that a man with the same name and address had been an informant to the FBI and testified in two suspected terrorism cases.

Hussain's limousine company is under scrutiny. One of the victims in the limo texted a friend not on the trip to say the vehicle was in terrible shape, The Washington Post reported. Just minutes later, the limo crashed in circumstances still under investigation.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a Monday press conference that the limo had failed a state Department of Motor Vehicles inspection just a month before and was not supposed to be on the road. He also said the driver did not have the right license to operate the vehicle.

The driver, his 17 passengers (who were all friends) and two pedestrians were killed just before 2 p.m. on Saturday when the 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine, which was heading southwest on Route 30, failed to stop at an intersection and hit an empty SUV in a parking lot.

A 2011 profile of Hussain by Mother Jones details a timeline that led him to become an informant. According to that profile, Hussain was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1994 on what he claimed were trumped-up murder charges.

After a bribe paid by his father, Hussain was released. He fled to the U.S., where he found work as a gas station attendant before owning a convenience store and then working as a translator with the DMV, Mother Jones reported.

He was reportedly caught helping DMV test takers cheat and, facing deportation, became an FBI informant, wearing a wire to catch others involved in the fraud. He was then used to snare people involved in suspected terrorism, becoming a paid informant. One of the cases on which Hussain worked undercover was a plot to bomb synagogues in New York City, according to Mother Jones.

Hussain also ended up in bankruptcy court twice and was at sued at one point for taking reservations when no rooms were available at a hotel he owned in upstate New York. He made a claim in court that his family was longtime friends of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who he said bought his son a $40,000 Mercedes-Benz, Mother Jones reported.

Time reported that the New York State Police believe Hussain is outside of the U.S., possibly in Pakistan.

The limo company said in a statement that it "extends its deepest condolences to the family members and friends of those who tragically lost their lives on Saturday," CNN reported. "We are performing a detailed internal investigation to determine the cause of the accident and the steps we can take in order to prevent future accidents."

The company also said it had "voluntarily taken our fleet of vehicles off of the road during the investigation" and had met with investigators with plans to do so again.

In a statement after the tragedy, Cuomo said, "My heart breaks for the 20 people who lost their lives in this horrific accident on Saturday in Schoharie. I commend the first responders who arrived on the scene and worked through the night to help.

"State police are working with federal and local authorities to investigate the crash, and I have directed state agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy," the governor continued. "I join all New Yorkers in mourning these deaths and share in the unspeakable sorrow experienced by their families and loved ones during this extremely difficult time."

New York limo crash site
People mourn on October 8 at the site of the fatal limousine crash in Schoharie, New York. Twenty people died in the crash: the limo's driver, 17 passengers and two pedestrians. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
New York Limo Crash: Company Owner Was FBI Informant from Pakistan, Records Suggest | U.S.