The owner of the limousine company behind Saturday’s horror crash which killed 20 people is a former FBI informant who went undercover to record alleged terrorists in mosques after fleeing to the US from Pakistan in the 1990s where he’d been accused of murder, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Shahed Hussain, 62, is named as the owner of Prestige Limousines, aka Hasy Limos and Saratoga Luxury Limousine, in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration documents.
In the last two years, the company has had at least four cars pulled out of service because they failed safety inspections.
The most recent was the modified 2001 Ford Excursion limousine which was carrying 17 passengers when driver Scott Lisinicchia crashed on Saturday, killing himself, all those on board and two pedestrians in the parking lot he came screeching into after running a stop sign in Schoharie, New York.
Ford has confirmed to DailyMail.com that if never manufactured the vehicles in limousine form so the one operated by Prestige had to have been modified unofficially.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the company was now under investigation and is no longer allowed to operate.
Despite repeated attempts to make contact with Hussain, he has not commented on the tragedy and the company’s websites are now disabled.
But 2010 court documents from the terrorism trials of four men who plotted to blow up the synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down planes coming out of Newburgh airbase reveal Hussain’s past ties to the FBI.
In 2002, he convinced the bureau to take him on after being caught running a dangerous DMV scan which helped prospective drivers cheat on their tests.
Hussain arrived in the United States in 1994 after fleeing his native Pakistan where he had been arrested for murder.
After his father bribed local police to let him go, Hussain fled the country, using a British passport to leave Pakistan, enter Moscow and then travel to Mexico.
From Mexico, he entered the US through El Paso in Texas. From there, he traveled to Albany.
Hussain then contacted an immigration lawyer who was then able to get him legal status by applying for political asylum. It enabled him to start working for the DMV where he was a translator.
There, he started a racket where he offered prospective drivers guaranteed pass-marks in their road tests or safety quizzes for a fee by ensuring they went to corrupt examiners.
In 2002, the FBI arrested him for the scam.
Rather than go to jail, he took a plea deal which involved him working as a confidential informant and he spent the next several years recording other conversations in the DMV for their benefit, incriminating his friends and colleagues.
Four years later, after filing bankruptcy and buying his son an Audi with money he claimed he’d been given by Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, he bought the hotel in Gansevoort which became the Crest Inn.
He then was put to work by the FBI to infiltrate mosques, specifically in Newburgh, New York, and look for what he described as ‘radicals’. The FBI paid him a salary of $96,000 for the work.
‘He was sent there per a number of reasons regarding other FBI investigations but I always ask him to keep his ears open if he heard individual speaking radically, including everyone has free rights to speech, but if it’s regarding possible threats, I wanted that information,’ FBI Agent Robert Fueller testified.
His work in the Newburgh mosques, particularly the Masjid al-Ikhlas led, in part to the arrests of James Comitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen.
They plotted to plant bombs at synagogues in the Bronx – Riverdale Temple and nearby Riverdale Jewish Center – and they also plotted to shoot down military planes at Stewart Air National Guard Base.
The three men were arrested when Hussain drove them to the Riverdale mosque with explosives. Authorities were waiting for them.
However valuable his undercover work was, he came under scrutiny as a witness and reliable informant during the trial when it was suggested he had turned off his recording equipment during crucial moments of conversation with the suspects.
He also failed to disclose to the FBI that he was the beneficiary of a $500,000 trust fund in Pakistan while collecting a salary from the bureau and claiming bankruptcy.
There were also claims of entrapment and even the judge who convicted the four men ruled in her verdict that Hussain’s behavior as an informant was ‘troubling’.
Hussain’s last known address is a massive $1.8 million home set on more than three acres on a quiet cul-de-sac in prosperous Loudonville close to Albany.
A pile of trash, that a neighbor said has been there since last Monday, stands rain-soaked at the end of the drive.
The six-bedroom, 10,000 sq. ft. yellow clapboard home boasts five full and four half bathrooms and comes with a four-car garage and its own tennis court and sauna. It now sits empty with not a stick of furniture inside.