The woman accused of fatally pushing an elderly woman on a sidewalk has retained a dapper, high-powered attorney who has represented some of the city’s most notorious defendants.
Lauren Pazienza, 26, has retained celebrity attorney Arthur Aidala to defend against a manslaughter charge in the March 10 attack that killed vocal coach Barbara Gustern, 87, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
Pazienza appeared in court on Tuesday for the first time in three months, where she rejected a plea deal for 15 years in prison. Aidala was at her side, nattily dressed in a blue pinstripe suit, matching purple tie and pocket square, and Panama hat.
Aidala, 54, is well-known for taking on high-profile clients who attract harsh scrutiny from the press, and has previously represented the likes of Anthony Weiner, , , Alan M. Dershowitz and Roger Ailes.
Attorney Arthur Aidala (left) is seen arriving in court on Tuesday with the parents of Lauren Pazienza, the evens planner accused of fatally shoving an 85-year-old woman in NYC
Aidala is seen advising his latest infamous client, Pazienza, on Tuesday. She rejected a plea deal for 15 years in prison
Beloved vocal coach Barbara Gustern, 87, was fatally injured in an apparently random sidewalk-shoving attack on a Manhattan sidewalk on March 10
Aidala represented Harvey Weinstein in his New York City criminal trial. They are seen together above leaving court in January 2020
According to a recent profile, a friend of Aidala’s asked him if he would talk to Pazienza’s family on the day she was first identified as a suspect in Gustern’s death.
Pazienza’s parents, Daniel and Caroline, live on Long Island, where he owns a small business servicing cesspools.
According to the Times, they could not afford Aidala’s usual $950-an-hour rate, but they and Pazienza’s grandparents agreed to a payment plan with the attorney that tapped their combined savings and pensions.
In court, Aidala has argued that that family has little money, saying that Pazienza is not a flight risk. She is currently being held without bail on Rikers Island, a decision that Aidala blames on the intense media scrutiny on the case.
Aidala is a well-known and well-connected figure in New York legal circles, and hosts a weekday talk-radio program, The Arthur Aidala Power Hour, airing on AM 970 at 6pm.
He is the current dean of the famous New York Friars Club, which is well-known for its risqué roasts.
Aidala is a well-known and well-connected figure in New York legal circles. He is seen above with former Mayor Bill de Blasio
Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa poses with Arthur Aidala at the attorney’s birthday party in 2017, which drew his friends from across the political spectrum
Aidala is the managing partner of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, which he runs in partnership with his wife, Marianne Bertuna, and several retired judges.
His friendships and connections in New York run the political gamut, and in 2017 his birthday party attracted both Bill de Blasio, then the city’s Democrat mayor, and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, a Republican who ran for mayor last year.
Fox News host Geraldo Rivera has been friends with Aidala for 20 years, and praised him in an interview with the Times.
‘Arthur cancels ‘cancel culture,’ said Rivera. ‘He has no patience for it, and he ignores it.’
For years, Aidala has been known for his willingness to take on clients who are pilloried in the press, a category that undoubtedly includes Pazienza.
‘I’m very concerned that all the negative publicity surrounding the case will lead to an unjust disposition,’ he told the Times of the charges against Pazienza.
‘Even though we may want a person to be in jail,’ he said, ‘we need to live in a society where that person goes to jail based on the rules. It can’t be that the end justifies the means.’
Pazienza has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and two counts of assault. She is next due in court on August 16.
Arthur Aidala and his friend Geraldo Rivera are seen attending an event in 2018
The 26-year-old event planner is accused of going on a ‘wine-fueled rampage’ and launching the unprovoked attack on the old woman as she tried to catch a cab.
She allegedly yelled at her – calling her a b**** – as she pushed her to the ground, with her victim dying of her injuries five days later.
At Tuesday’s hearing, she rejected a plea deal for a 15-year sentence. A Manhattan judge also refused to drop the charges against her.
Aidala said he was disappointed Manhattan Superior Court Judge Felicia Mennin refused to drop the charge.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Pazienza appeared in court in handcuffs and a medical mask with her red hair tied back in a low bun.
Her cesspool mogul father Daniel and mother Caroline who had walked into the courtroom hand-in-hand were also there to support her. They previously secured her $500,000 bond after she was first arrested, and before her bail was revoked.
Aidala told the New York Post after the hearing: ‘Obviously we are disappointed by the judge’s ruling.
‘We feel that pushing someone one time, not knowing their age or any disability rises to the level to satisfy the elements of manslaughter in the first degree. we will keep pursuing justice the best we can.’
On the night of the attack, Pazienza was celebrating the countdown to her wedding with her fiancé, Naveen Pereira, visited several art galleries in Chelsea.
The pair had 100 days to go until the big day and were anticipated to tie the knot on June 18.
Pazienza consumed several glasses of wine from numerous galleries before the couple headed to eat at a Chelsea park.
Pazienza was arraigned on charges of manslaughter and assault on in Manhattan
The two were enjoying their food when a park employee approached them and said they needed to leave because the park was closing soon.
‘The defendant became angry, started shouting and cursing at the park employee, threw her food onto her fiancé, and stormed out of the park,’ McNabney said.
Pazienza and her fiancé took off in two different directions with Pereira heading towards the Astoria apartment the pair shared, he told prosecutors.
Meanwhile, she walked towards West 28th Street near Eighth Avenue where she stumbled upon the vocal coach.
The victim had finished rehearsal nearby when Pazienza allegedly called her a ‘b***h’ and shoved her onto the sidewalk.
Pazienza proceeded to call her fiancé after the incident and allegedly watched as an ambulance arrived to help Gustern and carry her away, according to prosecutors.
Police were seeking Pazienza after surveillance footage nearby the scene showed her walking down the same street Gustern was pushed moments later. Pazienza fled to Long Island for slotgacor 11 days before turning herself into police. She was charged with manslaughter and assault
Pazienza and her fiancé were out celebrating the 100 day countdown to their wedding scheduled for June 18 when the incident occurred. Pazienza had many classes of wine before throwing a tantrum
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 lived 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
Prosecutors say NYPD 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 Pazienza didn’t mention anything about shoving Gustern to her fiancé.
‘Instead, she started to argue with her fiancé, accusing him of ruining her night,’ a prosecutor said.
‘Right before they went to bed that night, the defendant finally, for the first time, turned to her fiancé and told him that she had pushed someone. She said that she thought the person had fallen, and she walked away.’
Pazienza allegedly told her fiancé she pushed Gustern because she might have said something to her but she wasn’t sure.
Following the incident, Pazienza fled to her parent’s house in Long Island and deleted her social media accounts and wedding website.
She was free for 11 days after the incident before turning herself in after NYPD released photos allegedly of her.
She was charged with assault and manslaughter and released on $500,000 bail until May, when a judge revoked her bail because she is a flight risk.
Gustern had been a vocal coach for the likes of Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry and was remembered fondly by her family.