Owner of limousine that crashed, killing 20, was FBI informant who testified in terrorism trials

The owner of the limousine company linked to the deadliest transportation accident in nine years is no stranger to the law.

Shahed Hussain, who owns Prestige Limousine, served as an FBI informant in two terrorism cases after pleading guilty to a federal fraud charge in 2002.

A state official confirmed Hussain’s bizarre history to The Albany Times Union.

Now, Hussain faces the prospect of an avalanche of lawsuits for the crash that killed 20 people, as well as possible criminal charges.

On Monday, two days after the crash, Gov. Cuomo confirmed that the driver of the limo did not have the proper license and that the vehicle had failed an inspection just last month.

41 PHOTOS
20 killed after limousine crash in upstate New York
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20 killed after limousine crash in upstate New York
Debris scatters an area Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, at the site of yesterday's fatal crash Schoharie, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
People place flowers, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, at the scene where 20 people died as the result of a limousine crashing into a parked and unoccupied SUV at an intersection a day earlier, in Schoharie, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Mourners line the length of the Gateway Overlook Bridge during a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident in upstate New York, in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
Recovery crews remove debris from the scene of a fatal crash, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, where a limousine crashed into a parked and unoccupied SUV killing 20 people at an intersection a day earlier, in Schoharie, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
A man, who asked not to be identified, mourns during a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident in upstate New York, in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
Members of the National Transportation Safety Board work at the scene of yesterday's fatal crash, in Schoharie, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Barbara Douglas of Danamora, N.Y., reacts while talking about her four family members who died in Saturday's fatal crash in Schoharie, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. A limousine loaded with revelers headed to a 30th birthday party blew a stop sign at the end of a highway and slammed into an SUV parked outside a store, killing all people in the limo and a few pedestrians, officials and relatives of the victims said Sunday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Family members sign a banner in memory of their loved ones during a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident in upstate New York, in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
In this Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 photo, emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly crash in Schoharie, N.Y. (WTEN via AP)
Friends of victims who died in Saturday's fatal limousine crash comfort each other after placing flowers at the intersection in Schoharie, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. A limousine loaded with revelers headed to a 30th birthday party blew a stop sign at the end of a highway and slammed into an SUV parked outside a store, killing all people in the limo and a few pedestrians, officials and relatives of the victims said Sunday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
AMSTERDAM, NY - OCTOBER 08: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Amsterdam, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
A woman kneels after placing flowers, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, at the scene where 20 people died as the result of a limousine crashing into a parked and unoccupied SUV at an intersection a day earlier, in Schoharie, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
A New York state trooper and a member of the National Transportation Safety Board view the scene of Saturday's fatal crash in Schoharie, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. A limousine loaded with revelers headed to a 30th birthday party blew a stop sign at the end of a highway and slammed into an SUV parked outside a store, killing all people in the limo and a few pedestrians, officials and relatives of the victims said Sunday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
All 18 people in the limo and two pedestrians were killed.

(Photo: AP)
In this Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 photo, a limousine, left, has landed in the woods following a fatal crash in Schoharie, N.Y. (Tom Heffernan Sr. via AP)
AMSTERDAM, NY - OCTOBER 08: Family members, who were seated in the first row, mourn during a candlelight vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Amsterdam, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
SCOHARIE, NY - OCTOBER 08: People mourn at the site of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Schoharie, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
In this Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 photo, a body is draped under a blanket at the scene of a fatal crash in Schoharie, N.Y. (Tom Heffernan Sr. via AP)
Flowers are placed at a roadside memorial at the scene of Saturday's fatal limousine crash in Schoharie, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. A limousine loaded with revelers headed to a 30th birthday party blew a stop sign at the end of a highway and slammed into an SUV parked outside a store, killing all people in the limo and a few pedestrians, officials and relatives of the victims said Sunday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
A family member, who asked not to be identified, mourns during a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident in upstate New York, in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
Debris scatters an area Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, at the site of yesterday's fatal crash Schoharie, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
AMSTERDAM, NY - OCTOBER 08: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Amsterdam, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Members of the National Transportation Safety Board work at the scene of yesterday's fatal crash, in Schoharie, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
People place flowers, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, at the scene where 20 people died as the result of a limousine crashing into a parked and unoccupied SUV at an intersection a day earlier, in Schoharie, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Mourners gather during a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident in upstate New York, in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SCHOHARIE, NY - OCTOBER 08: A sign outside of the site of the fatal limousine crash gives information about a vigil, October 8, 2018 in Schoharie, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
State police say 20 people died in a crash in upstate New York that local officials say involved a limousine near a crowded tourist spot.
AMSTERDAM, NY - OCTOBER 08: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Amsterdam, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Barbara Douglas, of Danamora, N.Y., talks to reporters about her four family members who died in Saturday's fatal limousine crash in Schoharie, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. A limousine loaded with revelers headed to a 30th birthday party blew a stop sign at the end of a highway and slammed into an SUV parked outside a store, killing all people in the limo and a few pedestrians, officials and relatives of the victims said Sunday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Friends of victims that died in a fatal limousine crash comfort each other after placing flowers at the intersection in Schoharie, N.Y., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. A limousine loaded with revelers headed to a 30th birthday party blew a stop sign at the end of a highway and slammed into an SUV parked outside a store, killing all people in the limo and a few pedestrians, officials and relatives of the victims said Sunday. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Mourners gather on the Gateway Overlook Bridge during a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident in Upstate New York, in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
State Troopers keep the area secure at the scene of Saturday's limousine accident in Upstate New York, in Schoharie, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
State Troopers keep the area secure at the Apple Barrel Cafe and the scene of Saturday's limousine accident in Upstate New York, in Schoharie, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
A family member, who asked not to be identified, mourns during a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident in upstate New York, in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
Jill Richardson Perez (C), mother of Matt Coons, mourns the loss of her son with her husband Peter Perez (L), (not the father of Matt Coons), and daughter Ashley Coons (R), sister of Matt Coons, during a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident in upstate New York, in Amsterdam, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. Joining her are . REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
Mourners pay their respects by a makeshift memorial of flowers that lie at the scene of Saturday's limousine accident in Upstate New York, in Schoharie, New York, U.S., October 8, 2018. REUTERS/Cindy Schultz
SCOHARIE, NY - OCTOBER 08: State troopers guard the site of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Schoharie, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
SCOHARIE, NY - OCTOBER 08: People mourn at the site of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Schoharie, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
SCHENECTADY, NY - OCTOBER 08: State Police hold a news conference about the fatal limousine crash in Schoharie on October 8, 2018 in Schenectady, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NY - OCTOBER 08: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Amsterdam, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
AMSTERDAM, NY - OCTOBER 08: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the fatal limousine crash on October 8, 2018 in Amsterdam, New York. 20 people died in the crash including the driver of the limo, 17 passengers, and two pedestrians. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
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“The owner of the company had no business putting a failed vehicle on the road,” Cuomo said.

Court records show that federal prosecutors credited Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant, with providing “substantial assistance” in 2006.

At the time, prosecutors said he’d assisted in a fraud and drug case involving 12 individuals. He’d also testified in the terrorism sting of an Albany imam, Yassin Aref, and Bangladeshi pizzeria owner Mohammed Hossain. The pair were convicted of laundering money for a fake terrorism plot set up by the feds and each sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Hussain also served as an FBI rat in the controversial case of the Newburgh Four.

In that case, Hussain posed as a wealthy radicalized Muslim who befriended four men eventually convicted of plotting to shoot down U.S. military planes with a Stinger missile and set off bombs at Jewish targets in Riverdale area of the Bronx. The government faced criticism for the case because Hussain was seen as organizing the scheme and urging on the participants. Nevertheless, the four men, James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen were convicted, thanks in part to Hussain’s testimony.

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Victims of the fatal New York limo crash
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Victims of the fatal New York limo crash
 Amy and Axel Steenburg

(Photo: Facebook)
In this undated photo provided by Karina Halse, her sister Amanda Halse and boyfriend Patrick Cushing pose for a photo. The two were killed when a limousine they were riding in crashed Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Schoharie, N.Y. (Courtesy of Karina Halse via AP)

Rob and Mary Dyson

(Photo: GoFundMe)

This April 19, 2018, photo provided by Living Resources Corporation shows Amanda Rivenburg. Rivenburg was killed when a limousine she was riding in crashed Saturday, Oct. 6, in Schoharie, N.Y.

(Cathi Butryn/Living Resources Corporation via AP)

Adam Jackson and Abby King Jackson

(Photo: Facebook)
Rich Steenburg

(Photo: GoFundMe)
Erin and Shane McGowan

(Photo: Facebook)
SUNY Oswego Professor Brian Hough is one of the 20 victims in this weekend's limo crash in Schoharie. A family spok… https://t.co/PesHfsLf84
The driver in the upstate crash that left 20 people dead over the weekend has reportedly been identified as Scott L… https://t.co/5cHLiZisLj
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The work as an FBI informant paid well, according to “The Terror Factory: Inside the FBIi's Manufactured War on Terrorism.” The book by journalist Trevor Aaronson reported that Hussain used the money he earned from the FBI to buy the Crest Inn Suites & Cottages in Gansevoort.

The seedy inn also served as the business address for Hussain’s limo company. A longtime resident of the inn said that for at least two years Hussain kept limos on the property and seemed to care little about safety.

“As long as they get money, they don’t care who’s getting In their vehicles,” the resident, Laken Prosser, 31, said.

Efforts to reach Hussein were unsuccessful Monday. Prosser said he’d recently returned to Pakistan.

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