PHILADELPHIA — A Montgomery County man has been charged after being accused of faking service in the U.S. military.
United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Richard Meleski, 58, of Chalfont, was arrested and charged by indictment with healthcare fraud, mail fraud, stolen valor, creating fraudulent military discharge papers, and making false statements stemming from his scheme to defraud the Veterans’ Administration of hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits.
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, authorities allege.
Meleski also allegedly filed for monetary compensation from the VA for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 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 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 U.S. Attorney McSwain.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 68 years imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, a $2,250,000 fine, a $900 special assessment, and restitution of $302,121.21.
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.