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‘Cesspool scion’ Lauren Pazienza to get 8 years for fatally shoving Chelsea vocal coach Barbara Gustern, 87

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.


  1. Sharon Dowling Sharon Dowling August 27, 2023

    Apparently the perpetrator has been described by former classmates as entitled, often cruel, lacking empathy, and always rescued from the consequences of her actions by her doting parents. Is this a mental health issue? No one forced the wine, Xanax or Marijuana into her body. How dare her lawyer claim she was being unfairly persecuted because she was white! In another state, if the criminal had been a young black man who killed an elderly white woman, the sentence would have been much harsher! No intention required. I hope Lauren learns some empathy and gains introspection while in prison. I do believe the sentence took into account her condition at the time, and while no sentence in this case could be seen as “fair”, it was just.

  2. Carol Yost Carol Yost August 24, 2023

    I don’t think Alvin Bragg is soft on crime, although he’s often accused of being so. He doesn’t get punishment-heavy, and I like that. There may be various factors involved. The crime was heinous, to be sure. It’s hard to know what kind of sentence is best. I think that there may be a mental health issue here, and that is likely the reason for the relatively short sentence. Eight years is still pretty long, although not standard for a murder case. It would feel like a long time to me. Considering the way you’re treated in jail, it would be long. The motive for the killing should be determined, and again, I think it’s a mental health issue.

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | August 24, 2023

      The charge was manslaughter, not murder.

      • Carol Yost Carol Yost August 24, 2023

        I’m afraid I don’t know the difference. It’s still a serious crime.

        • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | August 24, 2023

          Whether she intended to cause serious harm or killed the victim by acting recklessly, for example.

    • Lia Lia August 24, 2023

      Yes the context would include if she intended to kill Ms. Gustern (likely that she did not intend to kill her).

      Also my understanding is Ms. Gustern was not initially unconscious and though injured, she was able to get up — she tragically died afterward.

      There are cases in which the perpetrator intends to kill (i.e. shooting at point blank range) but somehow the victim survives. So the charge can only be attempted murder — and the sentence will be less.

      Note also there have been other similar cases — a “push” that resulted in death — with similar or shorter sentences.

    • Vera Brooks Vera Brooks September 2, 2023

      We can only hope “normal” prisoners mete REAL justice to this murderer, who’s never shown decency.

    • kris kris January 30, 2024

      would not want a prosecutor to be “punishment heavy” would we? hopefully the soft on crime attitude will persist should you or your loved ones fall prey to a remorseless predator so they can happily roam the streets searching for other easy prey, like little old ladies! Perfect. VOTE BLUE NO MATTER WHO!

  3. Gojira Gojira August 23, 2023

    Eight years for ending someone’s life in such a callous and heinous way?!? Well, that’s a joke. I don’t think it would have been hard to prosecute her without a plea deal, given the videos and her own confessions to her fam, and wind up with a far more appropriate sentence. And as for her father having a cesspool service, well, this monster definitely takes after the family business.

    • Lawrence Lawrence August 23, 2023

      8 years? Only 8 years? For killing an elderly woman? Wow, Alan Bragg is soft on crime.

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