Department of Justice Prison

Assistant Commissioner of NYC Probation Department Pleads Guilty to Child Porn, Faces 90 Years

NEW YORK, NY. – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Robert Costello, 53, of Bethlehem, PA, entered a plea of guilty before United States District Court Judge Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., to all five counts of child pornography offenses with which he was charged last month.

In February 2021, Costello was charged by Indictment with three counts of receipt of child pornography, one count of access with intent to view child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.

The defendant admitted to receiving sexually explicit images of children over the Internet and possessing thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of children on several devices that he kept and stored at his residence. During the time that he committed these crimes, Costello was employed as Assistant Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation.

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“Robert Costello possessed and viewed visual depictions of the sexual exploitation of children, images that cause lasting harm to real, innocent victims,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “As an Assistant Commissioner working for the City of New York, the defendant held a position of trust and leadership – which we now know was woefully misplaced. Our Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in all jurisdictions to investigate and prosecute child sexual exploitation offenses.”

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

The defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 90 years’ incarceration with mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, five years up to a lifetime of supervised release, and up to a $1,250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and Bethlehem Township Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Francis A. Weber and Kelly Harrell, and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Jessica Urban of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).

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