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'Dirty Bieber Bandit' fights heroin addiction

Associated Press • Dec 23, 2013 at 10:34 AM

The heroin addict deep in debt committed the robbery two days before his sister’s high school graduation in May 2011.

The FBI dubbed him the “Dirty Bieber Bandit” because a witness said he looked like Justin Bieber, “only dirty”

Kilpatrick, now 21, was released from prison Dec. 13 after serving less than two years of a fouryear sentence. A Franklin County judge approved his early release with the support of prosecutors. Kilpatrick is clean, on probation and plans to leave the world of drugs behind.

Kilpatrick went free as the state battles the drug that helped put him behind bars. Attorney General Mike DeWine calls heroin abuse an epidemic killing at least 11 Ohioans a week. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach in Cleveland labels it a public health crisis. The Drug Enforcement Administration says heroin availability is on the rise nationally and overdoses are increasing.

Kilpatrick smoked marijuana in his early teens but swore to never try heroin. Yet friends persuaded him to smoke what they called “opium” off aluminum foil — in fact, it was heroin — and he was hooked.

Kilpatrick robbed his family of electronics, cash, credit cards and checks to feed his habit. He stole money from friends who cashed checks for him he knew would bounce. He left dealers in the lurch. He borrowed from payday lending companies. Soon, he was $1,500 in debt with no end in sight. He hatched the bank robbery as a spurof-the-moment crime.

Kilpatrick was a lousy bank robber, a fact that probably saved his life by forestalling a fatal overdose. Police identified him quickly based on tips, including Kilpatrick’s boast on Facebook about the robbery.

Out on bond after his indictment and arrest, Kilpatrick continued to get into trouble and kept using. On Nov. 12, 2011, he walked into the Hilliard police station to turn himself in for good, a heroin syringe in his waistband. He said rehab wasn’t working, and he knew he had to go somewhere he couldn’t get drugs and they wouldn’t let him leave.

That place was Belmont Correctional Institution in eastern Ohio.

Kilpatrick’s chances for recovery rest with his willingness to take responsibility, starting with an admission of his problem and willingness to fix it, said Paul Coleman, president of Maryhaven, the region’s oldest addiction counseling service. That includes attending 12-step programs for drug addicts and avoiding the people, places and things that got him in trouble to begin with.

Kilpatrick said he plans to attend such programs with friends who are clean. He pledges a new start and warns anyone who will listen not to go near heroin.

“People just need to know how serious it is,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m sure these kids start doing it not knowing how bad it really is, thinking they can just try it once and get a quick high, but it’s not like that. Not with this drug”

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