Chesterfield man who fled bank robbery in taxi is charged, police say

2013-08-06T15:30:00Z 2013-08-23T07:47:07Z Chesterfield man who fled bank robbery in taxi is charged, police sayBy Joel Currier jcurrier@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8256 stltoday.com

CREVE COEUR • A Chesterfield man has been charged with robbing a bank and a pharmacy Monday before attempting to flee in a taxi, authorities say.

John A. Barbera, 54, of the 100 block of New Holland Drive, was charged Tuesday with two counts of first-degree robbery and jailed in lieu of $150,000 cash bail.

About 1 p.m. Monday, authorities say, Barbera went into the Dierbergs at 11481 Olive Boulevard, which has a First Bank branch inside. He was caught by surveillance cameras writing a note demanding money and then handing it to a First Bank teller inside the store, court documents say. The teller gave Barbera about $400 in marked bills.

Barbera then walked down the street to a Walgreens, wrote another note, approached a cashier and said several times that he had a gun, court documents say.

The cashier, not seeing the note, simply smiled at Barbera, court documents say.

“Realizing things were not going as planned, the suspect departed the Walgreens,” police wrote in a probable cause statement filed with the charges.

Barbera was arrested in the parking lot as he attempted to flee by getting a ride in a taxicab, police say. Barbera told police he needed the money “to avoid becoming homeless again.”

Barbera also has pending charges of drunken driving and fraudulently trying to obtain a controlled substance.

In April, Barbera called in a hydrocodone prescription to a CVS pharmacy in Creve Coeur, pretending to be a “Dr. Lee,” according to court documents. The pharmacy called police about the fake prescription and summoned officers when Barbera arrived to pick up the prescription.

On Nov. 28, Barbera was stopped in Maryland Heights on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Court documents say Barbera was changing lanes erratically, ran a red light and struck two vehicles.

The officer found a half-empty bottle of schnapps and took a blood sample that revealed a blood-alcohol content of 0.225 percent, nearly three times the legal limit to drive a vehicle in Missouri.

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