A Korean War veteran was held hostage for more than four years by a man who stole his Social Security and pension checks, police said.
Perry Cogliano, 43, was being held in lieu of $15,000 cash bail on charges of grand larceny, unlawful imprisonment, criminal possession of a weapon, endangering an incompetent person, menacing and unlawful possession of marijuana.
The victim, 81-year-old David McClellan, lived in a squalid motel room with dried blood and mildew on the mattress and belongings strewn around the cramped lodgings, the Hudson Valley News Network reported.
The veteran had a lucrative pension package and suffered from advanced dementia, police said.
Cogliano lived next door at the Academy Motel in Highlands and was arrested Tuesday evening following a two-week investigation by local police, who received cell phone video from a concerned neighbor showing the elderly man being shouted at and abused by Cogliano, cops said.
“The guy who was arrested who lived next door, he was giving him just one bowl of cereal a day, he would stick him back in the room with a stick, wasn't bathing him, the old guy would just be walking around here naked, just terrible," a neighbor told WABC-TV.
Cogliano escorted the U.S. Marines veteran to his bank and force the elderly man to withdraw large sums of money, police said. Authorities declined to say how much money Cogliano allegedly took from the mentally disabled man.
Highlands Police Chief Jack Quinn said the veteran received a "tremendous amount of money" each month from Social Security, pension checks and food stamps, WFSB-TV reported.
McClellan had no friends or relatives and had moved into the motel after his home was condemned, authorities said.
He told police officers Tuesday that he’d been living at the motel for about four days. It had been more than four years.
Natasha Blanc, who’s lived there for three years, told HVNN residents constantly talked about the elderly man and how he was treated by his neighbor.
“It’s been going on four years. I think people didn’t speak up because those who stay here have a past – like drug addicts.”
McClellan is being evaluated at a nearby hospital, police said. Adult protective services and other agencies are investigating his case.