A Chalfont man has been charged in federal court with falsely claiming he served as a Navy SEAL and was a prisoner of war in order to secure health-care benefits from the VA worth over $300,000.
Richard Meleski, 58, was arrested and charged by indictment, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said Nov. 25, with health-care fraud, mail fraud, Stolen Valor, creating fraudulent military discharge papers, and making false statements stemming from his scheme to defraud the Veterans Administration (VA) of hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits.
Due to his false representations, Meleski received health care from the VA in Priority Group 3, effectively receiving health care before deserving military service members, McSwain said. 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, McSwain said.
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.
“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,” said McSwain.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 68 years imprisonment, three years supervised release, a $2,250,000 fine, a $900 special assessment, and restitution of $302,121.
The case was investigated by Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of the Inspector General and Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Megan Curran.