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What you need to know for 10/23/2017

Stiffer sentence possible in bank robbery case

Stiffer sentence possible in bank robbery case

Defendant convicted for attempted bank robbery 4 years ago
Stiffer sentence possible in bank robbery case
Citizens Bank at 501 State St. after an August 2015 robbery.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

A man accused of robbing a city bank Monday could face a stiffer sentence, if convicted, because he attempted nearly the same thing four years ago at a Niskayuna bank, records show.

Robert Costello, 36, of Schenectady, remained at the Schenectady County Jail Friday without bail on robbery and grand larceny charges. 

He is accused of making off with $6,600 in cash from the downtown Citizens Bank Monday morning. Police arrested him a short time later.

This arrest marked Costello's latest related to banks. In March 2013, he tried to rob a Niskayuna bank, as well as one in Colonie, records show. 

He did so to fuel his drug addiction, according to court proceedings in the Niskayuna case. The judge in that case cited Costello's addiction and challenged him at sentencing to turn his life around or continue to face prison.

"If you want to live the life of an addict, this is it, right here, right now," the judge told him then.

Costello pleaded guilty to attempted robbery in both cases and received a total sentence of 2 to 4 years in state prison. 

Asked about the 2013 cases Friday, prosecutor William Sanderson indicated he expected to push for a stiffer sentence this time.

Costello's potential maximum sentence, if convicted of third-degree robbery, is 3.5 to 7 years, Sanderson said.

State prison records also indicate Costello spent time in prison in 2004 in a stolen property case. That could make Costello a persistent felon, Sanderson said. 

If prosecutors pursue that designation and a judge agrees, he would face a minimum of 15 years to life in prison.

"We will look at the facts of this particular case and see if it merits going that far with it," Sanderson said. He noted the current case includes no weapon or implied weapon.

Costello's attorney, Michael Horan, who also represented Costello in 2013, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The 2013 Niskayuna incident was notable in that Costello entered the bank with his face covered, which raised bank employee suspicions immediately. He presented the teller a note, but fled empty-handed.

Off-duty Schenectady Officer Sammy Quinones spotted Costello fleeing, followed him and led officers to him. Quinones was later honored for his actions.

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