Methuen man pleads guilty to bank robbery

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Jul. 26—BOSTON — A Methuen man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to armed bank robbery.

Caio Costa, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of armed bank robbery and one count of using and carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for Oct. 31. Costa was indicted by a federal grand jury in January 2021.

"Mr. Costa terrorized the employees and patrons of a local community bank, all in pursuit of greed," said United States Attorney Rachael Rollins. "His dangerous actions put lives at serious risk, from brandishing a firearm during the robbery to his reckless efforts to evade police. Thanks to the brave and dogged work of dedicated law enforcement officers, Mr. Costa is now in custody and facing significant prison time."

Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, agreed.

"Caio Costa terrorized innocent bank tellers and bystanders just trying to go about their daily lives," he said in a press release. "In committing this armed robbery, and in leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase afterwards, this serial bank robber has repeatedly demonstrated why he is a significant threat to public safety. FBI Boston's Violent Crimes Task Force is committed to taking violent criminals like him off the street, to keep them from victimizing anyone else."

On Sept. 25, 2020, Costa, armed with a loaded revolver and donning a black motorcycle helmet, entered a branch of the Salem Five Bank in Tewksbury. Inside the bank, Costa brandished a black revolver and stole over $7,000. Costa then fled on a motorcycle leading to a high-speed chase with law enforcement, reaching speeds up to 100 mph. Costa eventually crashed the motorcycle in Lawrence and escaped on foot. Law enforcement later located the motorcycle helmet and clothing consistent with that worn by Costa during the robbery. The next day, Costa was arrested at a Salem, N.H., motel at which time he was in possession of a large sum of cash.

During an interview with law enforcement, Costa admitted to robbing the Salem Five Bank three days earlier and committing other armed bank robberies between August and September 2020. He also directed law enforcement to a dumpster where a loaded black revolver, black gloves, a black backpack and other items of clothing used during the robbery were recovered.

The charge of armed bank robbery provides for a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of brandishing a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence provides for a mandatory sentence of seven years in prison to be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the armed robbery charges. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

U.S. Attorney Rollins; FBI SAC Bonavolonta; Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan; Tewksbury Police Chief Ryan M. Columbus; Barry Golner, Interim Superintendent of the Lowell Police Department; Wilmington Police Chief Joseph Desmond; and Chelmsford Police Chief James M. Spinney made Tuesday's announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth G. Shine of Rollins' Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.