Costello free on $50K bond after county court arraignment

John Costello (center) plead not guilty to man slaughter in county court Tuesday. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)
John Costello (center) pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter in county court Tuesday. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

A Greenport man charged with vehicular manslaughter following a drunk driving crash that left a Peconic man dead is free on $50,000 bond.

John Costello, 71, pleaded not guilty to upgraded charges during his arraignment at the First District Courthouse in Central Islip Tuesday morning.

Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Miller said Mr. Costello faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted of the top charge following the Dec. 6 crash that left Bartolone Miguel, 32, dead.

According to police, Mr. Costello was driving a 2008 Chevy pickup truck eastbound on Main Road in Greenport shortly before 7 p.m. that night when he crossed into the westbound lane and hit an oncoming 2006 Honda driven by 22-year-old Oseas Ramirez.

At the time of the crash, Mr. Costello’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, Ms. Miller said.

Mr. Costello’s attorney, William Keahon of Hauppauge, told State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho on Tuesday that his client’s indictment by a Suffolk County Grand Jury “means nothing.”

It was a similar argument Mr. Keahon presented before Southold Town Justice Rudolph Bruer when Mr. Costello was arraigned on a misdemeanor drunk driving charge in town court following the crash. Those charges were dismissed when he was indicted three weeks ago.

Mr. Keahon said his client was not at fault and noted Mr. Ramirez was allegedly driving without a license at the time of the accident.

Ms. Miller told the judge Mr. Costello had the “significant financial means” to flee and requested bond be set at $300,000. Mr. Keahon countered by saying Mr. Costello is not a flight risk since he has no priors and is suffering from a broken neck from the accident.

Judge Camacho set bond at $50,000. Mr. Costello immediately posted the money and walked out of the courtroom with the help of a walking cane.

He is due back in court March 26.

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