A man held 81-year-old Marine veteran hostage for four years in a motel room to steal his benefits checks.
43-year-old Perry Coniglio was arrested in his motel room, which leads to the victim’s, on Tuesday in Highlands. Authorities say the veteran suffered from advanced dementia, and Coniglio took advantage of this and used brute force and intimidation to hold the ex-marine captive. Police Chief Jack Quinn said the veteran received a “tremendous amount of money” every month in Social Security benefits, pension checks, and food stamps, however, to respect the ex-marines privacy investigators wouldn’t divulge the exact total.
On Thursday, Coniglio was being held in the Orange County Jail, and his bail was set at $15 000. The charges placed against him include grand larceny and unlawful incarceration. The Legal Aid Society attorney representing him was not available for comment.
Coniglio was arrested during a police raid that was recorded by WABC-TV in New York City. The footage reveals a Coniglio being taken into custody at gunpoint while the elder veteran remained seated on his bed in his room at the US Academy Motel.
How had the veteran been held prisoner for so long?
Authorities did not mention why the alleged abuse went on for so long at the motel which is located just a few steps away from the building home to the Hudson Valley town’s police station and ambulance services, as well as just south of the US Military Academy. However, they did say neighbors reported the situation, one of whom supplied a video of Coniglio physically assaulting the veteran outside his room.
Detective Joseph Cornetta said that police have been contacted by numerous veteran groups that had offered to provide support for the ex-marine and that Adult Protective Services are collaborating with them to find the veteran a new home. The name of the elderly veteran has not been revealed to protect his identity. Authorities also took the victim to a hospital for evaluation. Furthermore, there has been no reports of any family members or friends linked to the ex-marine, who possibly could have sought an end to his unjust captivity.
It is an unsettling situation that such a crime could have gone one for four years, literally right under the noses of authorities located just a few seconds away. What is also very sad about the case is that the veteran who was once serving his civic duty and representing his nation, would spend four years of his elderly years held prisoner by a man almost 40 years his junior, who was taking advantage of his old age in order to benefit from the rewards the veteran sacrificed to receive.
This case is another example of how anyone can be a target.