Lauren Pazienza in court in May. Her defense attorneys previously said...

Lauren Pazienza in court in May. Her defense attorneys previously said the prosecution made the same plea offer earlier in the case, when Pazienza was first charged in the death of Barbara Gustern.

Credit: Marcus Santos

Attorneys for Lauren Pazienza, the former Port Jefferson woman who was charged earlier this year in the shoving death of a well-known Manhattan voice teacher, rejected on Tuesday a plea offer with a 15-year sentence, the second time such an offer was turned aside, the lawyers said.

Lead defense attorney Arthur Aidala confirmed to Newsday that the prosecution offer in the first-degree manslaughter case was disclosed during a brief state court hearing Tuesday.

The defense previously said the prosecution made the same offer earlier in the case, when Pazienza was first charged in the death of Barbara Gustern. The maximum sentence for the alleged offense is 25 years in prison.

Aidala also said that State Supreme Court Justice Felicia Mennin on Tuesday rejected a defense motion for dismissal of the first-degree manslaughter charge, the highest count in the indictment. A spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to comment Wednesday.

Pazienza, 26, was indicted on manslaughter and assault charges after she allegedly shoved Gustern, 87, voice coach to a number of famous vocalists including Deborah Harry, on March 10 as Gustern stood outside her apartment building on West 28th Street in Manhattan.

Barbara Gustern was voice coach to a number of famous vocalists...

Barbara Gustern was voice coach to a number of famous vocalists including Deborah Harry. Credit: Gustern Family

Prosecutors said Pazienza, who was living at the time with her fiance in Astoria, shoved Gustern and called her a derogatory name as she did so. Gustern struck her head in the fall and died five days later from her injuries.

According to police, Pazienza had been eating and drinking wine inside a nearby park with her fiance when the couple was told to leave by a parks employee because the facility was closing. It was then, according to investigators, that an angry Pazienza left the park without her fiance and encountered Gustern, giving her what turned out to be a fatal shove.

Pazienza eventually went back to her apartment and didn't turn herself in to police until 12 days later, time that defense attorneys said was taken up in part by Pazienza's need to find legal counsel and the ability to pay for it.

Aidala said the prosecution offer of a 15-year sentence was quickly rejected Tuesday.

Pazienza was initially granted release after her arrest in March on a $500,000 bail package assembled by her parents, grandparents and other relatives. But after Pazienza was indicted by a grand jury, Mennin revoked the bail, saying that Pazienza was a flight risk, a contention the defense disputed and claimed was unreasonable.

Pazienza has been held without bail on Rikers Island awaiting a possible trial later this year.

It remained unclear if the prosecution will come back with another offer as plea negotiations are likely to continue. Pazienza is due back in court in September. 

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