Nauman Hussain, the son of the owner of Prestige Limousine, pleaded not guilty Wednesday night to a charge of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the Schoharie crash that killed 20 people.
The judge set bail at $50,000 cash and $150,000 bond.
Hussain posted bail and was released after the arraignment.
He had to surrender his passport, as well.
During court, the Schoharie County district attorney said Hussain had his car packed and ready to leave when he was arrested.
His defense attorney, Lee Kindlon, says he was going to stay somewhere else because of the death threats he’s been receiving.
Kindlon said earlier Tuesday his clients won't cooperate with the investigation.
"Unfortunately, what's happened today with State Police jumping the gun to file charges, frankly, now my criminal defense side has to jump into action," Kindlon says, "and unfortunately, from this point, my clients, it's their right to remain silent."
A limo owned by Prestige crashed Saturday in Schoharie, in what the NTSB called the worst passenger accident in the country in nearly a decade. The state Department of Transportation says the limo, a 2001 Ford Excursion, was not road ready, and that the state placed the vehicle out of service after it failed inspection last month.
Kindlon is pointing the blame at state officials and the DOT, saying the intersection where the crash occurred is dangerous.
"They need to find out what the state of New York knew and when they knew it, why New York chose to not fix this road when they had the opportunity," he said.
However, the DOT has responded to Kindlon's claim. They released a response to Spectrum News, highlighting the focus on that area over the past decade:
"The location was fully reconstructed a decade ago and only four reported accidents took place in that area since the reconstruction. A truck restriction was put in place back in 2013. Since 2015, trucks have been fully prohibited on that road."
A federal investigator revealed to Spectrum News the inspection documents show there was a problem with the limousine's brakes, emergency exits and plate registration. Officials are still investigating if any mechanical issues played a role in Saturday's crash.
Hussain is scheduled to appear back in court October 23 at 5 p.m.