Man held hostage in US motel for four years to steal welfare, police say

Perry Coniglio arrested in New York state for allegedly abusing 81-year-old man in motel that stood next to police station

Man held hostage in US motel for four years to steal welfare, police say

A man held an 81-year-old Marine Corps veteran hostage in a squalid motel room for at least four years in order to steal his benefits payments, authorities said on Thursday.

Perry Coniglio was arrested on Tuesday in his room adjoining the victims at a motel in New York state. The motel in Highlands sits next door to the police station.

Coniglio, 43, used force and intimidation to get the veteran to cooperate with him, police said. The elderly man has advanced dementia, according to police.

Police chief Jack Quinn said the veteran received a tremendous amount of money each month in social security benefits, pension checks and food stamps, though investigators would not divulge the exact total.

The veteran was taken to a hospital for evaluation. His name has not been released by police.

Coniglio was being held on Thursday in the Orange county jail on $15,000 bail. The charges against him include grand larceny and unlawful imprisonment. The Legal Aid Society attorney representing him wasnt available for comment.

Coniglio, of nearby Highland Falls, was arrested during a police raid that was captured on video by WABC-TV in New York City. The footage shows police taking Coniglio into custody at gunpoint while the bearded veteran sat on a bed in his cluttered room at the US Academy motel.

Authorities said they were recently tipped off by neighbours, one of whom provided video allegedly showing the older man being physically abused outside his room.

It couldnt be learned from police why the alleged abuse continued for so long at the motel thats just a few steps away from a police station and an ambulance service. The motel is located just south of West Point, home to the US military academy.

Detective Joseph Cornetta said police had heard from a number of veterans groups that have offered to help the man, while the countys Adult Protective Services is working with police to find the man a new residence.

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