Judge: Standoff over federal access to crashed limo must end

The safety record of a limo company is under scrutiny after 20 people died in a crash over the weekend.

A judge has scheduled a conference between a local prosecutor and federal safety inspectors to try to forge an agreement over access to a limousine that crashed three months ago, killing 20 people.

Schoharie County Judge George Bartlett sent a letter Friday afternoon to District Attorney Susan Mallery and Kathleen Silbaugh, counsel to the National Transportation Safety Board, saying "This standoff must come to an end."

Bartlett rejected Mallery's assertion that her criminal investigation trumps the NTSB's work.

The National Transportation Safety Board says Mallery has blocked federal investigators from getting within 15 feet (4.5 meters) of the limo that crashed Oct. 6 in rural Schoharie.

Bartlett scheduled a conference between prosecutors, defense lawyers and NTSB on Jan. 29.

The limousine's operator has pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

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