She claimed she was selling drugs because her Social Security checks did not cover her living expenses.By Julie Grant

MONONGAHELA (KDKA) — A 72-year-old Donora woman is under arrest in Washington County for allegedly dealing heroin, which police say she was selling to supplement her social security income.

Police told KDKA that Cheryl Bartus said she only gets $325 a month in social security, because she worked under the table most of her life, and that’s why she said she sells the drugs.

Bartus is now in the Washington County Jail facing felony drug charges.

“She was living in Donora, but she was traveling to Monongahela to sell heroin,” said Chief Brian Tempest, of the Monongahela Police Department.

Police began investigating after receiving complaints from city residents.

“The public, a lot of times, are our eyes and ears. We were notified and we started an investigation, and it led us to Cheryl Bartus,” said Chief Tempest.

On Monday, police set up a controlled drug buy. Officers said Bartus drove to the intersection of Maple Drive and State Route 88 and picked up the confidential informant.

“The surprising thing to us was her age, that she is in her 70s and she was selling heroin,” said Chief Tempest.

Police arrested Bartus for allegedly selling 10 stamp bags of heroin marked “Sleepless” to the informant for $150.

“I don’t agree with that at all. I think it’s horrible. She can find other means of support. There’s welfare.
When I was young and I had to leave with my three kids, I got help from a church,” said Kim Doyle, of Clinton, Pennsylvania.

“I don’t know what to say. If you don’t have enough and you have family, you have got to do something, but perhaps not sell heroin,” said Jack Haburchak, of Monongahela.

Police say Bartus was in her car selling the heroin wearing only a mumu, or house coat, and she went to jail that way, too.

Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 7.

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