ALBANY, N.Y. — Veterans' organizations have reached out to help a Korean War-era veteran who authorities say was held hostage in a motel room for four years by a man who stole his benefit checks. Groups in New York, Ohio and Virginia have offered assistance to David McLellan, an 81-year-old Navy veteran and retired auto plant worker, said Highlands police Detective Joseph Cornetta. Last week, police arrested 43-year-old Perry Coniglio at the motel where both men lived and charged him with grand larceny, menacing and endangering the welfare of an incompetent person. Coniglio used "brute force and intimidation" to get McLellan to hand over monthly Ford Motor Co. pension and Social Security checks totaling several thousand dollars, police said. He also is accused of selling McLellan's vehicle and keeping the proceeds after telling the buyers that he was the older man's guardian. Coniglio remained in the county jail on $15,000 bail Monday. Messages seeking comment on the accusations against him were left for his Legal Aid Society attorney. Police said the thefts began soon after McLellan, who has no known relatives, moved out of his condemned house in nearby Fort Montgomery in 2012 and rented a room at the U.S. Academy Motel in Highlands, about 50 miles north of New York City. McLellan was already showing signs of dementia when he moved, the detective said, and Coniglio "immediately sized up the victim" upon renting a room next door to him. When police raided the $200-a-week motel on July 19, they asked McLellan how long he had been living there. His response: "About four days." "He said that to me over and over again," Cornetta said. The detective said the initial investigation began earlier this month as a financial crimes probe after someone tipped him off that McLellan's monthly benefits checks were being stolen. When someone provided video showing the older man being threatened by a stick-wielding Coniglio outside his room, officers working out of the town police station located next door to the motel arrested him, Cornetta said. McClellan's room was dirty and cluttered, and he likely hadn't bathed in months when police arrested Coniglio, Cornetta said. Initial reports said McLellan was a Marine Corps veteran, but Cornetta said he served in the Navy as a corpsman, or medic, in the early 1950s. As a corpsman McLellan would have served with Marine units. McLellan remained hospitalized Monday and is now under the care of Orange County Veterans Services, Cornetta said. Veterans groups wishing to help McLellan are being referred to the agency. A county spokesman said state law prevents him from commenting on what services McLellan is receiving. But he said typical services in such circumstances could include food, shelter and counseling. Former Marine Augustino von Hassell of New York City said he was seeking to help McLellan and hopes eventually "to find him a place where he can live in dignity." "All I'm trying to do is help a fellow veteran any way I can," von Hassel said.
Groups Reach Out to Help Veteran, 81, Held Hostage at Motel
You May Also Like
Esper broke his lengthy silence regarding the surge of protests nationwide following the May 25 death of George Floyd.
A wave of Confederate memorial removals that began after a white supremacist killed nine black people 2015 is again rolling.
Get the Military Insider Newsletter
Get the latest on pay updates, benefit changes and award-winning military content. Right in your inbox.
Just one last step.
To verify your free subscription, please check your inbox for:
Thank you for subscribing!
You may also view our other newsletters, or visit your account to manage email preferences.
Most Popular Military News
The House passed a bill on cost-of-living increases in veterans benefits for 2021.
The Pentagon has ordered a battalion of military police soldiers from Fort Bragg to deploy to the Washington, D.C. area.
According to the National Park Service, several memorials across Washington, D.C., were vandalized.
Wright noted that racism, discrimination and exclusion "does not care much about position, titles or stature."
A soldier fired three rounds at a speeding vehicle deemed a threat, officials said.
Latest Military Videos
The 786th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team used an F6 Alpha EOD robot to disarm a simulated...
The Eighth Army's Best Warrior Competition, day 1 was conducted May 31 at Camp Humphrey. Day 1 consisted of...
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronaut and Marine Corps Col. (Ret.) Douglas Hurley and fellow crew member...
A low-profile go-fast vessel is shown next to the Coast Guard Cutter James in mid-May, 2020 in the Pacific...
Crews from Ellsworth Air Force Base conducted training over the South China Sea integrating with Pacific Air Forces assets.
Army UH-60 Black Hawks and UH-72 Lakota helicopters flew low enough over demonstrators to kick up debris on the crowds.
The U.S. Naval Academy is planning to have its 4,400 midshipmen return to campus in Annapolis for the fall.
Pat McConnell created web pages for every man and woman in the academy’s memorial hall in the USNA Virtual Memorial Hall.
At the time of his death, David Forney had been training diligently for the Navy Pro Day.
Air Force News
Natasha Aposhian, a 21-year-old from Phoenix, Ariz., was just beginning her Air Force career.
The airmen were members of the 319th Reconnaissance Wing.
Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein addressed the violent protests that have roiled the United States.
Marine Corps News
Four elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are now in Kuwait and will operate under U.S. Central Command.
Lt. Gen. Eric Smith is involved in war games shaping a decade-long plan to reorganize the Marine Corps for future fights.
Gabriel Mendez Ramirez shipped off to Marine Corps boot camp in late May with a whole lot less baggage than he used to carry.
Coast Guard News
One of the detainees was mildly ill, including fever and a sore throat and was treated onboard.
Some people said the autopsy results raise questions about whether all the victims were asleep when the fire occurred.
The haul estimated to be worth about $37 million was offloaded from the Coast Guard cutter Active.