Accused Bank Robber Held Without Bail, More Charges Pending
The accused is an Afghanistan War veteran from Wilmington who says he developed a drug problem after returning from war.
An Afghanistan War veteran charged with robbing Citizens Bank in North Andover Saturday as well as a recent bank robbery in Salem, N.H., is held without bail. And prosecutors say charges are expected this afternoon for a recent Chelmsford robbery.
Joseph Costello, 26, of Wilmington, was arraigned in Lawrence District Court Tuesday and ordered to be held on $100,000 cash bail for the North Andover robbery and held without bail pending extradition for the Salem, N.H., robbery.
Costello allegedly walked into Citizens Bank Saturday at about 4:30 p.m. and demanded the tellers give him money, saying he had explosives in the bank. After a teller told him to take off his sunglasses, he allegedly fled without getting any cash. Police and fire crews did a sweep of the store and made sure there were no explosives, and the building was reopened for business within an hour.
On July 2, there was a similar incident in Salem, N.H., when police say a man matching Costello's description walked into the Citizens Bank at Shaw's on South Broadway that afternoon and handed the teller a note saying he had a bomb and a hostage and demanding money.
Police investigated and put out alerts on Facebook and other media outlets. And a state trooper whose neice had been reportedly dating Costello told police the man in the surveillance photos looked like Costello. Another person, a Wilmington resident who claimed to have grown up with Costello, said the suspect in the North Andover and Salem, N.H., robbery photos appeared to be him as well.
On Monday, Wilmington Police went to Costello's father's home, where Joseph Costello has been living, and found Joseph Costello there and arrested him.
Prosecutors, when requesting the $100,000 bail, said that Costello will likely be charged Tuesday afternoon for a recent similar robbery in Chelmsford, in which robbed the Citizens Bank at Stop & Shop on Chelmsford Street in in a similar fashion and fled with $4,000. They also said that while executing a search warrant in Costello's car, Chelmsford police found a head wrap similar to the one used in the crimes.
In addition, prosecutors said Reading Police are planning to charge Costello with a recent robbery of a supermarket in that town.
Costello's attorney, David Timmons, said his client denies the allegations. He added that his client has a history of mental illness and drug abuse since returning from war and was arrested last year for possession of OxyContin.
"I have PTSD," Costello told Judge Paul Yee. "I've had problems with drugs too."
Timmons told Judge Yee that Costello served in the Army in Afghanistan and was discharged last after becoming injured.
"During the course of recovery and treatment from that injury, Mr. Costello was prescribed some pain medications, and unfortunately that kind of spun off into an issue regarding substance abuse. Since then Mr. Costello... is trying to reach out and get assistance for that."
Timmons requested a low bail amount so that his client could receive help from veterans' agencies for his mental problems and addiction.
But given the serious nature of the crimes and the pending charges, Yee ordered Costello held on $100,000 bail and held without bail for the Salem, N.H., robbery.
This case is the second case from this past weekend involving a young war veteran and violent crime in North Andover. An Iraq War veteran is charged with assaulting three people at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on his wedding day.