A would-be bank robber caught after an off-duty police officer noticed him fleeing with his face covered admitted to the crime Wednesday.
Robert Costello, 31, formerly of Watervliet, pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court to one count of third-degree attempted robbery. His attorney said later Costello committed the crime in an attempt to feed a drug addiction.
He admitted to walking into the Trustco Bank on State Street in Niskayuna on March 20 and trying to rob it. Suspicions about Costello were immediately raised as he walked into the bank with a white cloth covering his face, prosecutor William Sanderson said later. A manager yelled at him to take the covering off, but he instead walked up to a teller and gave her a note demanding cash. No weapon was displayed or implied.
He left the bank without getting any cash.
Schenectady police Officer Sammy Quinones spotted Costello fleeing with the mask. The off-duty rookie followed him, leading on-duty police to Winston Place, where they arrested Costello. Quinones was honored for his actions at a ceremony in May.
Costello, authorities soon concluded, was involved in another heist in Colonie days before — a March 16 robbery at the Pioneer Savings Bank on Route 7. He later was charged in that case, as well.
Costello’s attorney, Michael Horan, said his client committed the crimes as a result of his addiction to heroin.
“He’s a really decent guy, except when the drugs get him,” Horan said.
Costello had a family, had a job with the state for a while and went to welding school, Horan said. He also spent time previously in prison, Horan said, and it was there that his client’s heroin addiction began.
“There’s no bottom to that kind of an addiction,” Horan added.
Costello also has pleaded guilty in Albany County Court in the Colonie case. He will be sentenced in the Schenectady County case to two to four years in prison, a term to run concurrently with his Albany County sentence.
Costello also was charged early last year in another bank heist, in which he was accused of being the getaway driver. Horan said that charge was later dropped as investigators couldn’t prove Costello knew what his co-defendant was doing.