Sex worker faces drug-related charges in death of NY chef

Sex worker faces drug-related charges in death of NY chef
CNN Video

A sex worker in New York faces drug-related charges in connection with the deaths of three men, including Cipriani Dolci chef Andrea Zamperoni.

Angelina Barini made her first appearance in US District Court in Manhattan on Monday, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

She is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one or more substances containing fentanyl, according to court documents.

When reached by phone, Barini’s attorney, Mildred Whalen of the Brooklyn Federal Defenders office, declined to comment.

A complaint implicates Barini, a 41-year-old Queens resident, in the recent deaths of three men identified as John Does.

A New York Police Department spokesperson confirmed that one of them is Zamperoni, who was the head chef of Cipriani Dolci, a renowned Venetian restaurant inside New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.

According to the complaint, Barini told law enforcement that “her pimp made her do it and it was not her.” Barini said the pimp — identified in the complaint as an unnamed co-conspirator — gave Zamperoni liquid ecstasy and would not let Barini call police when Zamperoni did not wake up.

What we know about Zamperoni’s death

The body of the 33-year-old Italian citizen was found in a Queens hotel room on August 21 as part of an investigation into lethal drug overdoses in New York City hotels, according to the complaint.

When law enforcement showed up to a room at the Kamway Lodge in Elmhurst, Barini answered the door and quickly shut it, the complaint says.

Shortly afterward, she opened the door and law enforcement “smelled a strong odor” consistent with “a dead body and burning incense,” the complaint says. In the corner of the room, authorities saw what appeared to be a human foot sticking out of a garbage can stuffed with bed linens.

Law enforcement also found what appeared to be a glass pipe commonly used to smoke drugs and an American Express credit card in Zamperoni’s name.

Zamperoni was pronounced dead that night. An external examination revealed no external trauma and a toxicology report is pending, the complaint says.

According to the complaint, surveillance video from the motel appears to show Barini entering the motel with a man matching Zamperoni’s description at 4:58 a.m. on August 18.

Surveillance further showed Barini leave the hotel room at 1:30 p.m., retrieve a garbage can from an alleyway outside and return to the room. Surveillance video shows that more people entered and exited the room between August 18 and August 21, including Barini but not Zamperoni, according to the complaint.

On August 21, Barini waived her Miranda rights and chose to speak with law enforcement authorities, the complaint says. She told authorities she “met a man from Italy” on August 18, they went to the motel room and he paid her for sex.

After initially denying that she or the pimp gave Zamperoni drugs, she later admitted that the pimp gave him liquid ecstasy and would not let her call police when Zamperoni was bleeding from the nose and mouth and would not wake up, according to the complaint.

She further said the body was wrapped and placed in a garbage bag and other men associated with the pimp came to the room “to discuss whether to cut up the body.”

While executing a search warrant in the motel room on August 23, authorities recovered a purple liquid in a glass with powder at the top of the liquid and around the rim, glass pipes for smoking narcotics, bottles of bleach and bleach-covered towels, electronics, a power saw and an empty suitcase, according to the complaint.

What we know about the other victims

The investigation found that Barini agreed with others and took steps to distribute narcotics to multiple clients, the complaint says, and that conspirators “occasionally” took the victims’ property once they were drugged and incapacitated.

John Doe-1’s body was found on July 4 in a hotel in Astoria, dead from what the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said was acute intoxication due to the combined effects of alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl, the complaint said.

John Doe-2 was found dead July 11 in a Woodside motel as a result of fentanyl intoxication, according to the complaint.

In both instances, surveillance video appears to show Barini entering the hotels with the victims.

CNN’s Mirna Alsharif contributed to this report.