Get our newsletters

Chalfont man sentenced in stolen valor, fraud case


A Chalfont man will serve more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of lying about his military service and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars pretending to be a veteran, according to federal prosecutors.
Richard Meleski never served in the U.S. military, although he claimed to have been a Navy SEAL and, to receive more benefits, he created documents saying he was a prisoner of war, authorities said.
The 58-year-old plead guilty in July 2020 to stolen valor, mail fraud, creating fraudulent military papers and aiding and abetting straw purchases of firearms as well as health care fraud and making false statements, prosecutors said in a recent statement.
Claiming he suffered from PTSD after rescuing injured soldiers in Beirut when the U.S. embassy was attacked in 1983, Meleski pursued additional benefits from the Veterans Administration, said Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams.

To support his application for greater benefits, Meleski submitted obituaries for Navy SEALs he said he served with, said Williams.
“He traded on the actions of these true service members in an attempt to bolster his application for monetary benefits,” the attorney said in the statement.
Additionally, Meleski applied for Social Security disability benefits for injuries he said he received while in the military and said he received a Silver Star. Prosecutors estimate he stole approximately $300,000 in benefits, which, they said, he will have to repay.
“Meleski faked a record as a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL in order to steal numerous forms of compensation,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain, in an earlier statement. “Everything about this case is profoundly offensive.”