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Schenectady man sentenced in downtown bank robbery

Schenectady man sentenced in downtown bank robbery

The defendant previously tried to rob a Niskayuna bank in 2013
Schenectady man sentenced in downtown bank robbery
Robert Costello
Photographer: Jake Lahut / Gazette Reporter

SCHENECTADY - A city man who admitted robbing a downtown bank last year was sentenced Monday to up to 5.5 years in prison.

Robert Costello, 36, appeared in court Monday with his attorney and cited drug addiction before the judge pronounced sentence.

Costello's attorney also cited addiction after he robbed a Niskayuna bank five years ago.

“My heroin addiction has taken me to the pits of hell, and has had me doing things I would never do in my sober mind," Costello said in court Monday. "I stand before you with a humble heart, and 11 months clean."

In the current case, Costello pleaded guilty earlier to third-degree robbery, a felony. He admitted he held up the Citizens Bank on State Street last August. He was arrested a short time after the heist.

Judge Matthew Sypniewski imposed the agreed-upon sentence Monday of 2 years, 9 months to 5 years, 6 months in prison.

Costello's attorney Michael Horan asked the judge to instead sentence Costello to a rehabilitation facility, citing Costello's heroin addiction as a life-threatening condition.

“I think he’s at a point in his life where, if he doesn’t address his heroin addiction, his legal issues will be the least of his problems," Horan said. 

Sypniewski rejected that as not part of the agreed-upon sentence.

Costello was previously arrested in connection with bank robberies in Niskayuna and Colonie in 2013. He received 2 to 4 years in state prison for those. The judge in the 2013 Niskayuna case gave him an ultimatum at his sentencing then: If he didn’t get his addiction under control, he would continue to be involved in the legal system and in jail.

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.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Jake Lahut at 518-322-2358, [email protected] or @JakeLahut on Twitter.

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