Queens man arrested in connection with 2019 death of famed Cipriani chef in Elmhurst motel

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A Queens man was arrested on Monday, Feb. 8, in connection to the 2019 death of a famed chef whose body was found by police in an Elmhurst motel.

Leslie Lescano, 44, was charged with distributing gammabutyrolactone, a Schedule I controlled substance commonly known as the date-rape drug, in August 2019 to a sex worker who allegedly then gave it to Andrea Zamperoni, the head chef at Cipriani Dolci.

Zamperoni was later found dead at Elmhurst’s Kamway Lodge.

Lescano, the ex-boyfriend of the sex worker, Angelina Barini, was not directly charged in Zamperoni’s death, according to federal prosecutors. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Lescano told law enforcement officials that he paid for the motel room and provided Barini with the drugs that she would use to disarm Zamperoni and rob him, according to the criminal complaint.

On Aug. 16, 2019, around 2:30 p.m., Barini texted Lescano on Facebook, writing, “I got a biznes opratunady for ya…I cute to the chase then i am willing to pay for ur servces [sic],” according to the feds.

Lescano and Barini met up later that day and Lescano allegedly handed off the drugs, the complaint says.

Two days later, on Aug. 18, around 4:50 a.m., Barini texted Lescano, who was in the Kamway Lodge, to “go in bathroom now.” Video surveillance at the motel showed Barini and Zamperoni sitting on a bench outside of the lodge before they eventually walked inside. About 15 minutes later, surveillance footage showed Lescano leaving the motel alone, the complaint reads.

Not long afterward, Lescano allegedly used Zamperoni’s credit card to purchase various items at a nearby deli before returning to the motel, dropping off the purchased items in a plastic bag outside of the motel, according to the feds.

But the pair’s interaction was not over.

Around 7:45 a.m., Barini texted Lescano asking that he come back to the motel – this time with bedsheets.

Later that afternoon, surveillance footage shows Barini leaving the motel and walking into a nearby alley to grab a garbage can. Barini was spotted walking in and out of the motel over the course of the next several days; however, Zamperoni was never seen, leading investigators to believe that he had died on Aug. 18.

Law enforcement officials arrived to the motel on Aug. 21, around 8:30 p.m., according to the complaint. Barini allegedly answered the door to the motel room and immediately closed it. Police said they heard a person shuffling around inside before Barini again opened the door to speak with the officers.

Police said they smelled a strong odor consistent with the smell of a dead body and burning incense, according to the complaint. They also said they saw a garbage can with bed sheets stuffed inside and a bare human foot sticking out. Zamperoni was later found dead inside the sheets.

Barini, who is also not charged directly in Zamperoni’s death, has been charged in connection to the similar deaths of two other men in Queens, including the death of a College Point man on Aug. 5, 2019.

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