Accused Bank Robber Held Without Bail, Chelmsford Charges Pending

The accused is an Afghanistan War veteran 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 and soon after for the recent .

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 a North Andover  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, , 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, 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 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 the .

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.

James Scott July 17, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I support our troops 100% but have no sympathy for this punk.
Phil Harmonic July 18, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Not with a statement like that you don't.
James Scott July 18, 2012 at 01:14 PM
So you're saying its okay for veterans to break the law? I support heros, not zeros.
Ben Hicks July 19, 2012 at 07:13 PM
So as long as you're a veteran it's not as big of a deal to rob banks because you have PTSD and drug problems? Well sign me up for the military then and have a ski mask ready for me when I get back


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