Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our website.

NYC event planner Lauren Pazienza indicted by grand jury for shoving Barbara Gustern to her death

NYC event planner Lauren Pazienza indicted by grand jury for shoving Barbara Gustern to her death 2

The 26-year-old event planner accused of shoving an 87-year-old Broadway singing coach into the ground on a New York City sidewalk – an encounter that ultimately led to the woman’s death – was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday. 

Lauren Pazienza is due back in court in mid-May to be arraigned after she allegedly pushed Barbara Gustern, 87, to the ground while calling her a ‘b***h.’ The incident took place in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea on March 10.

Advertisement

She faces up to 25 years in jail if convicted.  

Last month, her lawyer, Arthur Aidala, confirmed that her bail had been posted, telling reporters outside the court house on Friday: ‘Nobody doubts that this is a tragedy.’ 

‘We’re just going to get to the bottom of what really happened that day after we have all the evidence that’s in possession of the prosecutors because we don’t have any evidence.’ 

Advertisement
Lauren Pazienza, 26, was indicted on Friday for the death of Barbara Gustern, 87, a Broadway vocal coach who was fatally shoved on March 10

Lauren Pazienza, 26, was indicted on Friday for the death of Barbara Gustern, 87, a Broadway vocal coach who was fatally shoved on March 10 

Pazienza's lawyer, Arthur Aidala spoke to the media outside court last month

Pazienza’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala spoke to the media outside court last month

Pazienza made no comment at the 10th Precinct, where she was taken to after surrendered to police on Tuesday. She was charged at a courthouse and then taken to Rikers Island

Pazienza made no comment at the 10th Precinct, where she was taken to after surrendered to police on Tuesday. She was charged at a courthouse and then taken to Rikers Island

Advertisement
Pazienza lives with her fiancé, Microsoft customer support specialist Naveen Pereir, in a one bedroom apartment in Astoria, Queens, which his family owns. The complex is pictured

Pazienza lives with her fiancé, Microsoft customer support specialist Naveen Pereira, in a one-bedroom apartment in Astoria, Queens, which his family owns. The complex is pictured

AJ, who has served as a family spokesman since his grandmother's death, is seen with her above. He affectionately referred to her as 'bobbob' and remembered her as 'a force of nature'

AJ, who has served as a family spokesman since his grandmother’s death, is seen with her above. He affectionately referred to her as ‘bobbob’ and remembered her as ‘a force of nature’

Prosecutors say that NYPD detectives visited the parents' Long Island home (above) after receiving a tip that Pazienza was hiding out there, but that her father claimed that she was not at home and did not consent to a search

Prosecutors say that NYPD detectives visited the parents’ Long Island home (above) after receiving a tip that Pazienza was hiding out there, but that her father claimed that she was not at home and did not consent to a search

Advertisement

The sickening attack unfolded around 8.30 p.m. on March 10, when Gustern was walking towards a cab outside her Chelsea apartment building when she was pushed from behind. 

She was helped back to her feet by a cyclist and was taken to the hospital ‘covered in blood’ after hitting her head on the cement, and died from her injuries five days later. 

Before she lost consciousness, Gustern told police and a friend that an unfamiliar woman crossed the street, approached her directly, called her a ‘b***h’ and shoved her ‘as hard as she had ever been hit in her life.’ 

Advertisement

Prosecutors say Pazienza stayed in the area for about 20 minutes after the attack, arguing with her fiancé on a nearby sidewalk before returning to the scene of the crime to watch as an ambulance arrived. 

Soon after the attack, she went back home to Astoria, Queens, quit her job at a store in Chelsea, deleted all social media and took down a website advertising her wedding this June, prosecutors say. 

The day after Gustern died, she allegedly fled for her parents’ home on Long Island and later stashed her phone at her aunt’s house so police wouldn’t find it.

Advertisement

Pazienza’s attorney told DailyMail.com on last month that there is no proof that she pushed Gustern.

‘What they have is a photo of someone who looks like my client getting on the subway. This attack did not happen on the subway,’ said lawyer Arthur Aidala, a high-powered defense attorney who has previously represented Rudolph Giuliani, Harvey Weinstein, and Roger Ailes.  

Before she lost consciousness, Gustern told police and a friend that an unfamiliar woman crossed the street, approached her directly, called her a 'b***h' and shoved her 'as hard as she had ever been hit in her life.'

Before she lost consciousness, Gustern told police and a friend that an unfamiliar woman crossed the street, approached her directly, called her a ‘b***h’ and shoved her ‘as hard as she had ever been hit in her life.’

Advertisement
Gustern's grandson AJ has been updating her Facebook page. She died on March 15 - four days after being pushed to the ground

Gustern’s grandson AJ has been updating her Facebook page. She died on March 15 – four days after being pushed to the ground 

Pazienza's father Daniel owns a prosperous third-generation cesspool draining company (above), and claims on the company website that it was voted No. 1 in both price and service in Suffolk County for several years running

Pazienza’s father Daniel owns a prosperous third-generation cesspool draining company (above), and claims on the company website that it was voted No. 1 in both price and service in Suffolk County for several years running

Pazienza’s parents Daniel and Caroline, who have been married for 28 years, enjoyed a life of prosperity, taking vacations to Aruba, France, and the Florida Keys over the years, photos on Facebook show.

Advertisement

The family later moved to Port Jefferson, where Paziena allegedly fled to hide in her parents’ home after Gustern’s death. 

According to the criminal complaint, Pazienza ‘made every effort to avoid detection.’

When police were tipped off that she was hiding out in her parents’ Long Island home, ‘Her father [Daniel] answered the door, but refused to allow detectives to enter the premises, and claimed that his daughter was not at home.

Advertisement

‘It was only at that point, despite all of the media attention that this incident has received, despite the fact that the defendant knew what she had done when she fled the city, despite the pleas from the victim’s loved ones begging for the perpetrator to come forward, that the defendant’s counsel contacted the police and arranged for her to surrender.’ 

It is not unprecedented for parents to face consequences for allegedly trying to hide their fugitive children. 

NYC event planner Lauren Pazienza indicted by grand jury for shoving Barbara Gustern to her death 3

Advertisement
Pazienza's parents Caroline and Daniel. Prosecutors say she hid at her parents' home for days and that they lied to cops when they went looking for her, claiming she was not there

Pazienza’s parents Caroline and Daniel. Prosecutors say she hid at her parents’ home for days and that they lied to cops when they went looking for her, claiming she was not there 

Attorney and law professor Dmitriy Shakhnevich said evidence that Pazienza deleted her social media profiles, quit her job and fled to her parents’ Long Island home after the incident will make defending her a difficult job for her lawyers. 

‘Flight is perfect evidence of guilt,’ he said. ‘That will be presented to a jury. You’re gonna have the prosecutor say, ‘Why would she run if she’s not guilty? Why would she not stick around?’  

Advertisement

‘The defense lawyer would get up there and say she was scared and afraid. You’re gonna get the same thing you do in every case,’ added Shakhnevich, an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Both Discioarro and Shakhnevich believe that more evidence is needed to determine whether more serious charges could be on the way.

In New York, a person is guilty of first degree manslaughter when, ‘with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes the death of such person or of a third person.’  

Advertisement
Lauren Pazienza, 26, was arraigned on charges of manslaughter and assault on Tuesday in Manhattan

Lauren Pazienza, 26, was arraigned on charges of manslaughter and assault on Tuesday in Manhattan

Before she lost consciousness, Gustern told police and a friend that an unfamiliar woman crossed the street, approached her directly, called her a ‘b***h’ and shoved her ‘as hard as she had ever been hit in her life.’

Prosecutors say Pazienza stayed in the area for about 20 minutes after the attack, arguing with her fiancé on a nearby sidewalk before returning to the scene of the crime to watch as an ambulance arrived, according to surveillance footage from the area. 

Advertisement

‘The prosecutors gonna say, ‘With the facts I have, she pushed an old lady to the ground, she stayed to see what kind of trouble she was in, when she saw the cops were looking for her, she knew she had to get out of there, she left the city and erased her social media and website and tried to disappear, and she only turned herself in when it became national news,’ Discioarro said. 

‘This is not a good case for the defense. She has no sympathy.

‘I can’t imagine going to trial in this case,’ he added. ‘Unless the prosecution makes a ridiculous offer, I just don’t think this is a sympathetic client, and the media coverage is not sympathetic to her. What’s your argument, that you’re allowed to push old ladies in the street?’

Advertisement

Shakhnevich says the manslaughter charge is likely to remain just that.

‘That is as strong as they seem to be able to allege right now. Unless they can allege that she intended to kill, which is a stretch it seems, then manslaughter is as good as you’re gonna get,’ he said.

He added: ‘It’ll be interesting to see what the evidence is in the coming weeks and months.’

Advertisement
Pazienza, seen on family vacation as a teenager, appears to have lived a life of privilege, and later glamour in New York City's high society

Pazienza, seen on family vacation as a teenager, appears to have lived a life of privilege, and later glamour in New York City’s high society

Pazienza is currently jailed on Rikers Island -- but grew up in an affluent family on Long Island and enjoyed Manhattan's high society

She is seen above in photos from her teenage years

Pazienza is currently jailed on Rikers Island — but grew up in an affluent family on Long Island. She is seen above in photos from her teenage years

Though Pazienza appears to have lived a life of privilege, neighbors told the New York Post that she was sharp-tempered and confrontational. An elementary classmate even claimed she bullied fellow students.

Advertisement

Pazienza grew up in historic Setauket, Long Island, where she attended Ward Melville High School with her future fiancé, Microsoft customer support specialist Naveen Pereira.

A former classmate of Pazienza’s told Fox News that when he moved in down the street from her in second grade, she began bullying him. 

The classmate said that Pazienza always had a ‘crazy look in her eyes’ and would kick him and call him and other kids names. 

Advertisement

After graduating high school in 2013, Paziena earned a bachelors degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Photos show her enjoying glamorous parties in Manhattan in recent years, including the 40th-anniversary party for New York society magazine Avenue in 2015.

Pazienza had recently been living in an Astoria condo with her fiancé, who purchased the unit in 2019 with his father.

Advertisement

Neighbors told the Post that they were not entirely surprised to learn of the charges against Pazienza, saying that she was known to have a short fuse and was frequently confrontational.

After graduating high school in 2013, Paziena (above) earned a bachelors degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology

After graduating high school in 2013, Paziena (above) earned a bachelors degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology

‘There’s always some type of issue, some type of complaint. You’ll always know it’s her. It’s ridiculous,’ one said.

Advertisement

One neighbor said Pazienza argued with the building management about issues like parking tickets, but that it never got physical.

‘It was verbal. Sometimes she would stand up for herself, definitely,’ said the woman. ‘She will not put up with nonsense … she will say, ‘What is your problem?’ ‘What do you want from me?’

‘There was always an issue with her and someone in the building,’ one neighbor told the outlet. ‘It’s like always something with that lady. I feel for her fiancé because he’s a nice guy and he didn’t sign up for this.’ 

Advertisement

Following Pazienza’s surrender and arraignment after a citywide manhunt, Gustern’s grandson AJ expressed his relief that she faces trial for the killing, with a potential prison sentence of up to 25 years.

‘It’s entering a new phase of grief,’ AJ told WCBS-TV. ‘There is a sense of closure.’

‘I’d like to stress, innocent until proven guilty,’ he said. ‘If she did do this, then I would like answers.’ 

Advertisement

He continued, addressing his grandmother’s accused killer: ‘But I’m still praying for you, and the karmic weight you’ve taken on is incredible. May God help you.’  

AJ, who has served as the family spokesperson, described the devastation of losing his grandmother, whom he affectionately called ‘bobbob’. 

‘She was a force of nature. I called her a little neutron star, right, a ball of energy, building community everywhere she went,’ he said. 

Advertisement

Gustern once coached Blondie singer Debbie Harry. She was on her way to watch a student perform at Joe’s Pub, which she did often, when Pazienza allegedly pushed her outside of her building in Chelsea, according to the New York Times. 


Advertisement

About The Author