An 87-year-old Broadway singing instructor was shoved onto a Manhattan pavement by a 28-year-old former event planner last year without cause; she pled guilty to manslaughter in August and was given an eight-and-a-half-year jail term.
The eight years previously stipulated in Lauren Pazienza’s plea agreement were increased by six months on Friday by Manhattan state Supreme Court Judge Felicia Mennin, who said she didn’t think Pazienza had accepted responsibility for her acts.
Barbara Maier Gustern was injured by Pazienza’s thrust on March 10, 2022, breaking her head and leaving her bleeding on a Chelsea pavement. She spent five days in the hospital before passing away due to a “massive haemorrhage” on the left side of her brain.
If the defendant hadn’t accepted the plea agreement and a jury had found her guilty, she might have been sentenced to 25 years in jail.
As part of a plea agreement, Pazienza acknowledged cursing at Gustern and pushing her down on purpose. Her motivation is still unknown.
The younger woman, according to the prosecution, rushes Gustern on a Chelsea sidewalk, calls her a “b—,” and pushes her to the ground.
Since a judge revoked her bail in March 2022, she has been detained at the Rikkers Island jail.
“Lauren Pazienza aggressively shoved Barbara Gustern to the ground and walked away as the beloved New Yorker lay there bleeding,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement after she pled guilty. “Today’s plea holds Pazienza accountable for her deadly actions.”
Debbie Harry of Blondie was among the famous people who Gustern’s clients included. Kimilee Bryant, a performer from South Carolina, referred to Gustern as her “New York mom” and claimed that Gustern and her late husband hosted her when she first moved to New York City for a run on Broadway in “The Phantom of the Opera” years ago.
“We’d really become close, because they really adopted lots of sorts of strays, as they would call us, for holidays because we couldn’t go home,” she said. “I couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving. We had a show.”