Fake SEAL Arrested, Defrauds VA Out of $300,000
Pennsylvania: A fake SEAL was arrested and charged with Stolen Valor, healthcare fraud, mail fraud, fraudulent military discharge papers, and making false statements. According to the DOJ, Richard Meleski, 58, allegedly faked a career with the Navy SEALs in order to defraud the VA of $300,000 in healthcare benefits. He faces 68 years in prison, 3 years supervised release, a $2,250,000 fine, a $900 special assessment, and restitution of $302,121.21.
“These allegations are truly shocking and a huge insult to anybody who has worn our country’s uniform. If proven, Meleski deserves to face the consequences under the law. My Office will aggressively root out and prosecute this type of conduct with the seriousness of purpose that it deserves.” U.S. Attorney McSwain.
The US attorney’s office wrote:
“The Indictment alleges that the defendant faked serving in the U.S. military, specifically the Navy SEALs, and even falsely represented that he had been a Prisoner of War, in order to secure healthcare benefits from the VA worth over $300,000. Due to these false representations, Meleski received healthcare from the VA in Priority Group 3, effectively receiving healthcare before deserving military service members. In reality, the defendant never served a single day in the U.S. military.
Meleski also allegedly filed for monetary compensation from the VA for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he claimed to have suffered as a result of an armed conflict in Beirut in which he had supposedly rescued injured teammates. In his application for disability benefits for PTSD, Meleski also falsely represented that he had been awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions during his supposed time as a Navy SEAL. He also allegedly submitted another application to the VA for monetary compensation in which he used the obituaries of actual Navy SEALs, claiming that he had served alongside them.
Finally, Meleski also allegedly filed for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for injuries that were supposedly aggravated by his service in the U.S. military. He falsely testified under oath about these injuries in connection with a SSA Disability proceeding.
Meleski’s claims were somewhat over the top, but went through the system until the VA flagged the file. His claims, according to Military.com were:
“18 hr hostile takeover. Became POW, during this tour. Beaten, shot, head injury, tortured. Hospitalized in Germany for injuries sustained. Crushed hand. Shrapnel,” Meleski wrote, claiming he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of serving as a Navy SEAL in Beirut during the 1980s, according to the indictment.
Meleski claimed he injured his left knee jumping out of a window carrying a dead SEAL on his back, prosecutors allege.
He claimed that he suffered a traumatic brain injury when he jumped through the window and that he “was unable to speak for three months,” the indictment says. He allegedly claimed he was awarded the Silver Star for his actions.”
So we have the Silver Star claim, which is Stolen Valor. The defrauding of the VA for health benefits, including over $2k in prescription drugs, the falsification of records…and he never spent one day in the US military, according to the US attorney. He was not in Beirut, he was in the United States at the time.
*Note: the US Attorney’s office called him a Montgomery County man, Military.com referred to him as being from Bucks County. The two counties share their western border. Meleski is from Chalfont, which is actually in Bucks County.
Featured photo: Richard Meleski screenshot, via Valor Guardians