A former drug counselor in Westmoreland County will spend three years in federal prison for stealing a patient’s identification to take out fraudulent loans and violating probation by stealing a dead nursing home patient’s identification to buy a car.

U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak imposed that term Thursday on Nina Marie Barkley, of West Mifflin, who had worked at Clear Day Treatment Center in Hempfield.

In 2021, she used the identity of K.P., a person seeking treatment at Clear Day, to open lines of credit. K.P. didn’t know Barkley except as a counselor named Nina. The two had no other connection.

Barkley brought in a little over $60,000 in her scheme.

She had initially been charged by state police with identity theft, receiving stolen property, forgery and theft. The case was later adopted by the U.S. attorney’s office for federal prosecution and a grand jury indicted her in November 2021 on counts of bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

K.P. met Barkley during intake at Clear Day in April 2021 and provided biographical and personal information at that time and at counseling sessions. Barkley then used that identity to apply for eight loans and lines of credit from seven institutions in May and June of that year.

When police confronted her in July, she initially passed herself off as K.P., according to court records.

Prosecutors said Barkley also violated her bond with repeated acts of deceit and ID theft.

A bond revocation hearing revealed that she had used a falsified work license belonging to someone else to get a job at a skilled nursing facility after leaving the treatment center. At the new job, she stole the personal data of a dead nursing home resident, prosecutors said, and tried to use that person’s data to get a loan to buy a car.

During an interview with the federal probation office in November 2021, prosecutors said, Barkley lied that she was in remission from leukemia and that she had a bone marrow transplant because of that illness. While on pretrial release, she lied about where she was, saying she was in a hospital when she wasn’t. She even sent a photo of herself in a hospital gown and presented falsified medical records from UPMC to the probation office, prosecutors said.

In addition, Barkley presented fake medical records to a state court judge in January 2022 indicating she had leukemia and created fake identities of UPMC staff to bolster her claims, prosecutors said.

Then, in February of last year she submitted an application for rental assistance to the COVID-19-related Emergency Rental Assistance Program using K.P.’s name and stolen information and continued to use that information to rent her house until federal agents arrested her in March 2022.

The aggravated identity theft counts carry a mandatory two-year sentence, but Barkley’s public defender, Johanathan Brooks, asked that the bank fraud term be reduced to six months.

He said she’s taken responsibility for her actions and that her crimes have ruined any future career in social work or nursing. Her marriage also has fallen apart.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gal-Or asked the judge to give Barkley three years in prison, saying her criminal acts were egregious and continued even after she was charged.

“Deterrence is critical in a case like this,” Gal-Or said, because Barkley has “demonstrated, both through the charged conduct and her post-charge conduct, a total disregard for the law, for this court’s authority and for the well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society, including those seeking drug treatment, the elderly and those in need of government assistance.”

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at jtorsteno@gmail.com.

Torsten Ove

Torsten covers the courts for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Reach him at jtorsteno@gmail.com.