Former Probation Official Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Offenses

A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty today to multiple counts of receiving child pornography, accessing with intent to view child pornography, and possessing child pornography depicting prepubescent minors and minors under the age of 12.

According to court documents, 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, used an online app to discuss the sexual abuse of children and to receive images of child sexual abuse, and stored images and videos of child sexual abuse on his electronic devices.

Costello is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15, and faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a statutory maximum of 90 years in prison. He also faces mandatory restitution. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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 Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Philadelphia made the announcement.

HSI Philadelphia is investigating the case and received assistance from the Bethlehem Township Police Department.

Trial Attorney 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.

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. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

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