PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A suspended teacher who is already jailed on counts in connection with a bank robbery is now facing new charges.
The latest charges against Philicia Barbieri stem from her admission to police that she burglarized her downstairs neighbor’s apartment on Marchand Street. Officials say a flat screen television and a video game console were taken, all part of an alleged crime spree to support her and her boyfriend’s $100-a-day heroin addiction.
Barbieri, 24, is a graduate of Chatham University and was working as a full-time substitute teacher at the Pittsburgh Center for Creative and Performing Arts.
“The average person we’re seeing is her age range – early 20s, often working, professional,” said Dr. Neil Capretto, the medical director at Gateway Rehabilitation Center. “Common story is they start off using pain pills, sometimes for good reason – sometimes for not – get dependent on them, and then graduate up to heroin, snorting it and injecting it.”
Barbieri, of Shadyside, and her live-in boyfriend, Alvin Carter III, 28, are charged with robbing an East Liberty bank earlier this month. Barbieri was also suspended from her job at CAPA back in March for allegedly stealing more than a dozen laptop computers.
Now, along with theft and conspiracy, police are adding new charges for burglarizing her neighbor’s home twice.
“Opioid addiction in western Pennsylvania has never been worse. There are more people using heroin, prescription opioids than in any time in our history,” said Dr. Capretto.
Along with increased use of the drugs, overdoses and deaths are also up.
“We’re now setting records for overdose in western Pa,” he added. “Allegheny County alone is averaging around 250 a year.”
Dr. Capretto says heroin hijacks the brain, overriding logic, and convincing an addict to get help is tough.
“If they don’t get help, there may be consequences – they may not be welcome in your house; you may not give them financial support; if they get arrested or in trouble, don’t bail them out.”
Barbieri remains in the Allegheny County Jail.