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Afghanistan war veteran from Mass. indicted in Salem bank robbery

An Afghanistan war veteran accused of robbing at least three banks in Massachusetts was indicted for robbing a fourth bank located inside a Salem grocery store in July.

Joseph Costello, 26, of Wilmington, Mass., is facing a single count of bank robbery in Federal District Court. He was indicted by a grand jury on Oct. 3.

The Salem robbery allegedly happened after Costello went to banks in North Andover, Reading and Chelmsford, Mass., and demanded money from a teller, claiming he had explosives on him, according to prosecutors.

Salem police say Costello carried out a similar robbery in their town on July 2. He allegedly entered a Shaw's supermarket just after 2 p.m. and passed a note to a teller at a Citizens Bank counter.

The note claimed he had a hostage and a bomb.

A dye pack stuck inside the bag with the money upended the robber's plan to get away with cash, police said. It exploded as Costello fled from the scene, causing him to leave the stained money behind, police said.

Police had only a vague description of the robber, who dressed in a black hat, T-shirt and sunglasses.

A police dog came to scene and tracked the suspect to a nearby parking lot for a 7-Eleven store on Cluff Crossing Road, but the trail ended there.

But after investigators released bank surveillance photos, tips began coming in to police that led to Costello's arrest.

Police said the physical description of the suspect and even the words used in a note passed to tellers in both robberies matched up.

Police from Salem, North Andover and Wilmington, Mass., along with Massachusetts State Police, worked to confirm Costello's identity and locate him, police said. He was taken into custody in Wilmington, Mass.

Costello is being held without bail.

jkimble@newstote.com

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