A man held an 81-year-old Marine veteran hostage in a run-down motel next to a police station for four years so that he could steal the vet’s benefit checks. Highlands Police Department, NY arrested 43-year-old Perry Coniglio in a room adjoining the filthy motel room that was located only feet from a building housing police and other first responders and only minutes from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. Authorities report that the veteran suffered from severe dementia and that Coniglio coerced the vet into handing over his checks through intimidation and physical abuse. The Marine veteran has not been identified to protect his privacy.
Police Chief Jack Quinn stated that the veteran received a “tremendous amount of money” each month in in Social Security benefits, pension checks, and food stamps. The victim received three checks every month, all of which were quickly stolen by Coniglio who was posing as his caretaker. Authorities have not released the total amount of money the vet received each month.
Coniglio was staying in a room adjoining his victim’s filthy motel room turned two-star prison cell when he was arrested. The two were staying at U.S. Academy Motel, near West Point NY, in Highlands, NY for approximatley four years before the veteran was rescued from his captor. WNBC reported that the Highland police department had received several complaints from motel guests over the course of several years that Coniglio.
It wasn’t until a video of Coniglio physically abusing the vet in front of their motel rooms surfaced that local authorities decided to act. The adjoining rooms were raided Tuesday night. Coniglio was arrested at gunpoint as the neglected veteran watched from his bedroom.
Police have not commented on why they allowed the verbal abuse to go on for so long before intervening or investigating the complaints.
Coniglio is facing multiple charges including fourth-degree grand larceny, endangering the welfare of an incompetent person, criminal possession of a weapon, and second-degree unlawful imprisonment. His bail has been set at $15,000.
Detective Joseph Cornetta stated that several veterans groups have stepped forward to help the man find a new residence. Several veterans groups and police are working together to find the man a new residence.