From the Seattle Times’ Gene Johnson
For nearly 20 years ” ever since Pete Costello was 8 ” his mother has collected disability benefits on his behalf. In meetings with Social Security officials and psychologists, he appeared mentally impaired and unable to communicate. His mother insisted he couldn’t read or write, shower, care for himself or drive.
But now prosecutors say it was all a huge fraud, and they have video of Costello contesting a traffic ticket to prove it.
“He’s like any other person trying to get out of a traffic ticket,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Barbosa said Tuesday.
Pete and Rosie Marie Costello were indicted in September on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and Social Security fraud. The Vancouver, Wash., pair pleaded not guilty in federal court in Tacoma on Tuesday after the case was unsealed.
Pete Costello sat in court Tuesday, saying nothing, but showing no outward sign he is mentally impaired. He works as an auto-body repairman and lives with a girlfriend and two of her children, prosecutors said.
Though the traffic ticket video is considered the smoking gun, investigators initially became suspicious when they couldn’t find Sports By Brooks in Costello’s browser history.