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2 from Carrick charged in connection with rash of heroin overdoses | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

2 from Carrick charged in connection with rash of heroin overdoses

Tribune-Review
| Friday, April 17, 2015 11:42 a.m.
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Justin Robinson
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Officers charged Raeann Gonzalez, 27, of Carrick with conspiracy, possession with the intent to deliver heroin and possession of heroin.
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Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Dr. Karen Hacker (left) director of the Allegheny County Health Department, Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams and Cmdr. Linda Barone of the Pittsburgh Police Department's Narcotics Division participate in a news conference on a recent rash of heroin overdoses on Friday, April 17, 2015, Downtown.
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Guy Wathen | Trib Total Media
Dr. Karen Hacker (left), director of the Allegheny County Health Department, and Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams participate in a press conference on a recent rash of heroin overdoses on Friday, April 17, 2015, Downtown.

The drug epidemic that has claimed countless lives visited a Carrick family this week for the second time.

Matthew Stasik, 31, died Wednesday with opiates in his system, and his family said they are confident he died from heroin — a demon he had long battled.

His death orphaned his two young children. Stasik’s wife died from drugs three years ago, his family said. Trina Pfister Stasik, 25, died from the toxic effects of cocaine, codeine and heroin in December 2012, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office.

“I hope and I pray every night that whoever is selling these drugs gets pulled off the streets and so many people and families don’t have to suffer,” said Lynn Stasik, 67, Stasik’s mother.

Police have received a rash of reports about drug overdoses between Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon in the Pittsburgh area. At least two people have died — Stasik’s could be the third if it is confirmed by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office. Two arrests have been made.

The Medical Examiner’s office is working to determine which drugs are at fault. Preliminary results show the culprits in six cases to be either heroin or Fentanyl, a potent, synthetic opioid.

“If you think you’re getting heroin, and you’re getting fentanyl — which is much stronger — we’re very concerned about that,” said Dr. Karen Hacker of the Allegheny County Health Department.

“We’re focusing on heroin and Fentanyl, but they are the tip of an extraordinarily complex problem we have,” said Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams, pointing out that overdose deaths from cocaine and crack cocaine are major problems, as are all addictions.

Stasik’s blood tested positive for opiates, which includes heroin, but officials are awaiting a toxicology report to verify what killed him, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said. No stamp bags or drug paraphernalia were found near the body, she said.

“There was no evidence provided to the office when Mr. Stasik’s body was picked up — so there is no bag to do preliminary testing on, as was the case with the other two deaths,” she said.

Pittsburgh police on Thursday night arrested two Carrick residents in connection with the recent fatal and near-fatal overdoses.

Officers charged Justin Robinson, 29, and Raeann Gonzalez, 27, each with conspiracy, possession with the intent to deliver heroin and possession of heroin.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled April 29.

Police pulled the couple over in Carrick and discovered heroin stashed inside a hair brush on the dashboard of their Chrysler 300.

“That’s all mine,” Robinson told police, a criminal complaint states.

Under a covering on the brush, police found 16 bundles labeled “Predator” and another two labeled “Night owl.”

At the couple’s Leolyn Street residence, police recovered 31 bundles stamped “Night owl” and 10 stamped “Predator.”

Officers searched Gonzalez at police headquarters and found 14 bundles of heroin stuffed inside her bra. A dozen of those had the “Predator” stamp, court records state.

A bundle consists of five small bags of heroin. Each bag typically contains a dose of about 100 mg.

Police received reports of 12 possible overdoses between Tuesday morning and Wednesday afternoon in the Pittsburgh area. Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Linda Barone estimated that eight of them were drug overdoses and the others constituted seizures or other medical emergencies.

People survived the overdoses after paramedics administered Narcan, a drug that reverses the deadly effects of heroin.

Bags stamped “Predator” have been found at several sites where overdose victims were found.

A bag stamped “Chicken/Waffle” was found near James Nardozi, 31, of Dormont, who also died Tuesday. During the news conference Friday, Williams said the one suspected heroin-related death was linked to a bag stamped “Chicken/Waffle.”

Bags stamped with either “predator” or “chocolate” are Fentanyl, Williams said. A bag stamped “Chocolate” was found near Patrick Byrnes, 38, of Beechview, who died Tuesday.

Williams said there is no indication from the six cases with preliminary test results that the heroin was laced with Fentanyl, which was a problem in January 2014 when 22 people died from overdoses linked to a heroin-Fentanyl mix in Western Pennsylvania.

Authorities discovered Stasik, 31, Wednesday on the West End and transported him to UPMC Mercy. Doctors pronounced him dead at 1:17 p.m. After his wife’s death, Stasik swore he would never touch heroin again, his uncle, Chuck Odato, of Stoneboro, Mercer County, said.

Odato said he worries about how his sister will be able to raise her grandchildren — Mattalyn, 9, and Isaac, 6.

“Anybody that is using (heroin), please get off and get help. It’s not just you that is going to get hurt. It’s your family, your community, everybody.”

Staff writer Michael Hasch contributed. Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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