A man held an 81-year-old Marine Corps veteran hostage in his squalid motel room for at least four years in order to steal his benefits checks, authorities say. Perry Coniglio was arrested Tuesday in his room adjoining the victim's at a motel in Highlands, NY. The motel sits next door to the police station in the Hudson Valley town, about 50 miles north of New York City. Coniglio, 43, used brute force and intimidation to get the mentally diminished veteran to cooperate with him, police say. The elderly man has advanced dementia, according to police. Police Chief Jack Quinn says the veteran received a "tremendous amount of money" each month in Social Security benefits, pension checks, and food stamps, the AP reports.
Authorities say they were recently tipped off to the situation by neighbors, one of whom provided video showing the older man being physically abused outside his room. The veteran was taken to a hospital for evaluation. His name hasn't been released by police. It's believed he has no relatives or close friends, but police haven't said how Coniglio came in contact with him. NBC New York reports that Coniglio was a handyman at the US Academy Motel, which is apparently named after the nearby West Point Military Academy. Coniglio is being held in the Orange County Jail on $15,000 bail. The charges against him include grand larceny and unlawful imprisonment. A detective says police have heard from a number of veterans groups that have offered to help the elderly man. (Read more New York state stories.)