Former Port Jefferson woman pleads guilty to fatally pushing 87-year-old vocal coach

Former Port Jefferson woman pleads guilty to fatally pushing 87-year-old vocal coach

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Lauren Pazienza. Photo from NYPD social media

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. announced on Aug. 23 the guilty plea of Lauren Pazienza, 27, for fatally pushing 87-year-old Barbara Gustern to the ground in Chelsea on March 10, 2022. Pazienza pleaded 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 September 29, 2023.

“Lauren Pazienza aggressively shoved Barbara Gustern to the ground and walked away as the beloved New Yorker lay there bleeding. Today’s plea holds Pazienza accountable for her deadly actions,” said District Attorney Bragg. “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 approximately 8:30 p.m. on March 10, 2023, Pazienza was walking from Chelsea Park when she crossed the street, shouted obscenities at Ms. Gustern and then intentionally shoved her to the ground. Ms. Gustern then 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 Ms. Gustern on the ground bleeding from her head. Eyewitnesses called EMS and Ms. 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 approximately 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. She deleted her social media accounts and took down her wedding website, and eventually fled to Long Island to stay with family.

Executive Assistant D.A. Justin McNabney (Chief of the Special Victims Division) and Assistant D.A. Maria Luna handled the prosecution of the case. Investigative Analyst Janine Nassar and former Assistant D.A. Emily Farber assisted with the prosecution. D.A. Bragg thanked Detective Roger Ali of the 10th Precinct and Detective Teresa Cota of Manhattan South Homicide.

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