Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
Long Island Woman Indicted For Shoving Elderly Woman To Her Death In Unprovoked NYC Attack
Lauren Pazienza allegedly crossed a Manhattan street, called 87-year-old Barbara Gustern a "b***h" and pushed her to the pavement, causing a head injury that resulted in the elderly woman's death days later.
A Long Island woman accused of shoving an elderly woman to her death in a seemingly unprovoked NYC attack has been indicted.
Lauren Pazienza, 26, is accused of forcefully pushing Barbara Gustern, 87, while calling her a “b***h,” resulting in the woman’s death days later, according to Fox News. The March 10 incident happened in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by Newsday, Pazienza — who lived in Astoria, Queens at the time — crossed West 28th Street in Manhattan at around 8:30 p.m. to call Gustern the derogatory slur before pushing her to the pavement, resulting in a severe injury to her head. Gustern ultimately died as a result of the injury.
After reports of Gustern's death surfaced, Pazienza reportedly fled to the Port Jefferson, Long Island estate of her parents, who own a successful cesspool company. Pazienza surrendered to authorities on March 22 and was released several days later, after her mother posted her $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond.
Several media outlets, including the New York Post, have since painted the defendant as a spoiled socialite from an affluent Long Island neighborhood, with one classmate describing her as “the poster child for white privilege.”
Pazienza's defense attorney, Arthur Aidala, suggested that stories of the family’s status were incorrect while addressing reporters after Pazienza made bail.
“[Pazienza’s father] literally, literally digs holes where our human waste goes in, and he works with two helpers with a shovel digging ditches,” said Aidala, according to the Post. “He’s far from some rich guy, and she [Pazienza] is far from a young woman who grew up in a very spoiled, privileged environment.”
Those who lived in Pazienza's upscale condominium building in Astoria said otherwise.
“Everyone in the building knows to avoid her,” one neighbor told the Post. “You hear screaming fights between her and her fiancé. You would never hear the fiancé. You would just hear her screaming.”
The neighbor was referring to Naveen Pereira, who, according to Fox News, met up with Pazienza the night she allegedly attacked Gustern.
“She’ll yell at toddlers for being toddlers and not knowing how to walk properly and stuff like that,” the neighbor continued.
Neighbors and classmates alike claimed she was an entitled woman with “simmering rage.”
“I heard that the day [Gustern’s death] happened, and I said to myself, ‘she would,’” former classmate Trey Siemers told the Post. “She would do that because she kind of had a covered-up anger issue.”
Siemers described Pazienza as “a basket case in disguise” who “had an attitude like she was rich, she was untouchable.”
Prosecutors announced Wednesday that Pazienza faces one count of first-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault following a grand jury’s decision to indict. If convicted, Pazienza could spend between five and 25 years in prison.
It remains unclear if Pazienza and Gustern even knew one another.
Barbara Gustern was a well-known vocal coach who made a career on Broadway, with a client list featuring big-name performers, including Debbie Harry, the famous rock singer from the 80s band “Blondie.” Gustern had also performed at the New York City Opera, the Fifth Avenue Opera, and the Greenwich Symphony, according to the Post.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Church of Holy Apostles to pay their respects to the beloved woman, just across the street from where she was pushed to her death.
She was preceded in death by her husband and the couple’s only child, who passed away in 2003.
“Nobody doubts that this was a tragedy,” defense attorney Aidala said to reporters. “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.”
Pazienza is expected to appear in court for her arraignment in mid-May.