Pennsylvania probation commissioner charged for child pornography

BETHLEHEM, PA – A Pennsylvania man made his initial appearance today after being charged in an indictment with multiple child pornography offenses. Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas M. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Philadelphia, made the announcement.

Robert Costello, 53, of Bethlehem, who was employed by the New York City Department of Probation as an Assistant Commissioner at the time of the offenses in 2020, was charged with three counts of receiving child pornography, one count of accessing with intent to view child pornography, and one count of possessing child pornography depicting prepubescent minors and minors under twelve years of age. He was arrested on related state child pornography charges in Pennsylvania on Oct. 15, 2020, and has been in custody since that time.

Jessica Urban of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Francis Weber and Kelly Harrell of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case. HSI-Philadelphia is investigating the case with assistance from the Bethlehem Township Police Department.

The case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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