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Astoria woman pleads guilty to fatally shoving elderly Broadway singing coach in Chelsea: Manhattan DA

Astoria resident Lauren Pazienza pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the fatal shoving of an elderly Chelsea singing coach last March. (Photo by Dean Moses)

Aug. 24, 2023 By Bill Parry

An Astoria woman pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first-degree for fatally shoving a “beloved” 87-year-old voice coach during a fit of rage in Chelsea last March.

Under the terms of of the plea deal, Lauren Pazienza, 28, who lived with her fiancé in the Shore Towers condominium on the Astoria waterfront, will be sentenced to eight years in state prison for killing Barbara Maier Gustern on the night of March 10, 2023, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Pazienza was drinking wine with her fiancé in a Chelsea park when they were asked to leave, sending her into a temper tantrum.

According to court records and as acknowledged by her guilty plea, at approximately 8:30 p.m. stormed out of the park and crossed West 28th Street and Eighth Avenue where she began shouting obscenities at Gustern and proceeded to intentionally shoved her to the ground. Gustern then fell in an arc directly on her head, causing a massive hemorrhage to the left side of her brain. Pazienza then stormed off and left Gustern on the ground bleeding from her head. Eyewitnesses called EMS and Gustern was rushed to the hospital, where she became unconscious. She died five days later after she was removed from life support. Gustern died of blunt force trauma to the head, the city medical examiner’s office said.

After the attack, Pazienza stayed in the area for approximately 20 minutes, before taking the subway back to her apartment in Astoria, with her fiancé, according to court records. Pazienza 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 website and eventually fled to Port Jefferson, Long Island to stay with her family. When NYPD detectives arrived at the home days later, her father told them she wasn’t there. Her lawyer contacted police and arranged for her surrender at the 10th Precinct the next day.

Pazienza fled to Long Island where she hid out at her family’s home before surrendering to police. (Photos courtesy of the NYPD)

“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,” Bragg said. “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.”

Pazienza will be sentenced on Sept. 29 to eight years in state prison to be followed by five years of post-release supervision.

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Sara Ross

Gives new meaning to the punishment not fitting the crime. This was murder and I don’t care if she was on drugs, if she has mental problems or even if she just broke up with her boyfriend. She killed an innocent woman and her sentence is an insult to her, her family and her friends. Most of these judges should be on park benches not court benches.

Suki Weston

Barbara M. Gustern who was a close friend, was on life support, but probably died shortly after the assault. Pazienza watched from across the street, as the ambulance took her away. She did not call for help. Her sentence to Riker’s Island will count for the first year and one half of her sentence served. She will be 34 when she goes home. I did not see remorse on her red lipstick smeared face at the hearing. I felt that she was crying for herself, not the deed she committed.


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