CONWAY — Conway police on Wednesday filed a reckless driving charge against Carroll County Treasurer Joe Costello. They say the violation-level offense happened May 8 at about 1:51 p.m. near the Big Apple Citgo gas station in North Conway.
The complaint, filed by police Sgt. James LaPoint, says Costello, 71, of Conway “did operate a motor vehicle on White Mountain Highway, located in Conway, New Hampshire, in a reckless manner so that the lives and safety of the public were endangered, in that Joseph Costello ‘brake checked’ and unlawfully passed another vehicle in heavy traffic while engaged in a road rage incident.”
Brake checking is braking deliberately to force the driver behind to react quickly, according to Wikipedia.
A document filed in the Conway District Court says a not-guilty plea was filed on Costello’s behalf and that his next court date will be a “telephonic status hearing.”
The document says he may change his plea to guilty and resolve the case or a trial could be scheduled.
Kayla Hooper, 19, of Berlin, the other alleged party in the incident, was charged with reckless driving and driving after revocation or suspension. Police say her driver’s license was suspended on or before May 8.
The reckless driving complaint alleges the same behavior as the complaint against Costello. The court gave her identical paperwork stating it had entered a not guilty plea on her behalf as well.
According to Conway Police Chief Chris Mattei, Hooper told police she was driving southbound on Route 16 when she stopped for a vehicle making a left hand turn in front of her and a pickup truck was trying to pass her on the right.
Police say Hooper was driving a Ford Focus and Costello a Ford F-150.
“Kayla Hooper blocked the pickup truck from passing her,” said Mattei. “According to Kayla, the driver of the pickup truck started to follow her very closely and she ‘brake checked’ the truck.
“As the two vehicles proceeded southbound on Route 16, the black pickup truck passed her in the center turn lane and was now in front of her,” Mattei said.
“Kayla Hooper stated that she then tried to pass the pickup truck utilizing the center turn lane and as she did, Joseph Costello swerved ... striking her vehicle on the right rear corner. Kayla stated that this almost caused her to lose control of her vehicle, a Ford Focus. At that point she pulled to the side of the road and called 911.”
Mattei said Costello went to the police department later that afternoon to report the incident. Mattei said Costello said Hooper hit him as she passed him in the center turn lane.
Conway Police Sgt. William Strong is identified as the prosecutor for both Costello and Hooper.
Mattei said they both reeived summomses and have court dates of July 13 at 8 a.m.
Costello was elected in 2016, succeeding Jack Widmer who quit in 2015. Costello was re-elected in 2020.