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Former Pittsburgh science teacher pleads guilty in robberies

| Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011

A former Pittsburgh Public Schools science teacher who got hooked on heroin and helped rob a bank pleaded guilty on Friday to that crime and others.

Philicia Barbieri, 25, of Shadyside appeared in court next to her former live-in boyfriend, Alvin Carter III, 28, to plead guilty in three cases. Carter pleaded guilty to robbing the Fifth Third Bank on Penn Circle in April.

"She was teaching school and doing well and then she gets involved with heroin. It ruined her life," said Barbieri's attorney, Patrick Thomassey. "When you have that type of addiction, you lose sight of everything."

Carter's attorney, Joseph Paletta, said his client's drug habit was the reason for his participation in the bank robbery.

"He was suffering from an addiction at the time," Paletta said.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning will sentence Barbieri and Carter in March.

Thomassey said Barbieri has completed one in-patient rehab program and is in another.

"She's doing wonderfully. She's gotten herself straight and sober," he said.

Barbieri pleaded guilty to nine charges, including robbery, burglary and theft. She faces more than 60 years in prison if sentenced to the maximum on each count.

Carter pleaded guilty to five charges, including four counts of robbery, and faces more than 40 years in prison if sentenced to the maximum on each count. Prosecutors said Carter passed a note at the bank demanding $2,000 "or I'll shoot you." Barbieri waited outside, and the two were arrested a short time later.

Manning allowed Barbieri to remain out of jail on bond in a rehab center pending her sentencing. The judge lowered Carter's bond to allow him to get out of jail and check into an in-patient drug rehab center pending his sentencing.

Barbieri is a 2008 graduate of Chatham University and was teaching at the Creative and Performing Arts School before she got hooked on heroin. She told police she stole $22,500 worth of laptop computers from CAPA over a period of several months last winter and stole a television from a neighbor in April to support her heroin habit.

PPS spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said Barbieri, a permanent substitute teacher, resigned from CAPA in April.

Carter told police the couple was using a bundle of heroin a day -- 10 single-dose "stamp bags" that sell for about $10 each on the street.

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