BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg today announced the guilty plea of Lauren Pazienza, 27, for fatally pushing 87-year-old Barbara Gustern to the ground in Chelsea on March 10 of last year.
Pazienza, an event planner, pled guilty in New York State Supreme Court to one count of manslaughter in the first degree. Under the terms of the plea, Pazienza will be sentenced to eight years in state prison followed by five years of post-release supervision. She will be sentenced on Sept. 29.
“Lauren Pazienza aggressively shoved Barbara Gustern to the ground and walked away as the beloved New Yorker lay there bleeding,” Bragg said. “Today’s plea holds Pazienza accountable for her deadly actions. We continue to mourn the loss of Barbara Gustern, a talented musical theater performer and vocal coach who touched so many in New York City and beyond.”
According to court records and as acknowledged by Pazienza’s guilty plea, at around 8:30 p.m. on March 10, 2022, Pazienza was walking from Chelsea Park, at W. 27th Street and Ninth Avenue, when she crossed the street, shouted obscenities at Gustern and then intentionally shoved her to the ground. Gustern fell in an arc directly on her head, causing a massive hemorrhage to the left side of her brain. Pazienza then walked away and left Gustern on the ground bleeding from her head. Eyewitnesses called E.M.S. and Gustern was rushed to the hospital, where she became unconscious. She died five days later after she was removed from life support.
After the attack, Pazienza stayed in the area for roughly 20 minutes, before taking the subway back to her apartment in Astoria, Queens, with her fiancé. She made no mention of the assault until late that evening, when she disclosed to her fiancé that she had pushed someone. Pazienza deleted her social media accounts and took down her wedding Web site, and eventually fled to Long Island to stay with family. Her father runs a successful cesspool business on the Island.
D.A. Bragg thanked Detective Roger Ali of the 10th Precinct and Detective Teresa Cota of Manhattan South Homicide for their work on the case.
Gustern was a highly regarded vocal coach, having worked with Debbie Harry of Blondie and the cast of the 2019 Broadway revival of “Oklahoma!” among others.