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Event Planner Sentenced to Over 8 Years in Prison for Shoving Beloved Vocal Coach, 87, to Death

The judge cited Lauren Pazienza's "inability to take responsibility for her actions" for sentencing her to 8 1/2 years in prison

<p>Curtis Means/Pool Photo via AP</p> Lauren Pazienza in court on Aug. 23

Curtis Means/Pool Photo via AP

Lauren Pazienza in court on Aug. 23

Lauren Pazienza was sentenced to 8½ years in state prison on Friday after shoving 87-year-old vocal coach Barbara Gustern to her death last year, according to multiple outlets including the New York Post and Newsday.

On Aug. 23, the New York City woman pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter and agreed to a sentencing of eight years in state prison, followed by five years of supervised release.

During Friday's hearing, the event planner changed her account of the incident while being questioned by Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Justin McNabney. Justice Felicia Mennin then added an additional six months to her sentence, citing Pazienza’s “inability to take responsibility for her actions,” reports the New York Post.


Pazienza spoke briefly, first apologizing before her lawyer, Arthur Aidala, nudged her to say more, reports the Post.

“I never should have pushed anybody, and I’m so sorry,” Pazienza said, per the Post. “I wish I could take it back but God doesn’t turn back the clocks. I’m just so sorry.”

Barbara Maier Gustern/FaceBook Barbara Maier Gustern, New York City based vocal coach.
Barbara Maier Gustern/FaceBook Barbara Maier Gustern, New York City based vocal coach.

Related: Woman Turns Self in After Allegedly Shoving Broadway Vocal Coach to the Ground in N.Y.C., Leading to Her Death

Last March, Pazienza and her fiancé were visiting Chelsea art galleries, and after drinking several glasses of wine headed to Chelsea Park. After a park employee told the couple that the park was closing, the convict cursed, shouted, threw her food at her fiancé, and left the park.

She then headed towards 28th Street, where prosecutors say she spotted Barbara Gustern, reports Gothamist.

Prosecutors said Gustern was simply walking down the sidewalk last March when Pazienza called her a “b----” and intentionally shoved the octogenarian, PEOPLE previously reported. However, on Friday, Paziena denied calling Gusternthat when McNabney questioned her.

Gustern fell after being shoved and suffered multiple injuries. She entered into a coma and died five days later.

Related: Event Planner Allegedly Had Several Glasses of Wine Before Shoving Broadway Vocal Coach to Her Death

Following the fatal incident, “Pazienza walked away as the beloved New Yorker lay there bleeding,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Brigg said last month when announcing Paziena's plea deal. “[The] event planner, stayed in the area for approximately 20 minutes, before taking the subway back to her apartment in Astoria, Queens.”

Once the New York native returned home she told her fiancé she shoved someone. She then deleted her social media accounts and took down her wedding website, the district attorney said. And eventually fled to Long Island to stay with her parents, PEOPLE previously reported.

On March 15, 2022, the day Gustern died, Pazienza turned herself in to the authorities.

During the press conference in which NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig confirmed Gustern died from her injuries, he described the incident as a "disgusting and disgraceful offense committed against a vulnerable, elderly female who was doing nothing but walking down the streets of N.Y.C.”

"Today, at 11:15 a.m., we have lost one of the brightest little flames to ever grace this world," Gustern's family wrote in a Facebook post after her death. "I ask that you all give me a little time and space, but I want to make time for anyone and everyone who wants to know more about her final moments." Gustern's grandson AJ Maier Gustern authored the post, reports the New York Daily News.

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During Pazienza’s sentencing, AJ spoke directly to the convict. “She just doesn’t seem like she is even maybe capable of accepting responsibility,” he said. “My baba felt safe in this city — even late at night — and you’ve ruined that.”

Gustern was a noted member of the artistic community in New York, according to The New York Times. Gustern worked on the 2019 Broadway revival of Oklahoma! that featured Tony Award winner Ali Stroker as well as on the 2008 musical Passing Strange.

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Read the original article on People.