On July 22, Richard Meleski pleaded guilty to falsely filing for Veterans Affairs healthcare and disability benefits, healthcare fraud, mail fraud, and aiding and abetting illegal firearm purchases.
According to the Military Times, Richard claimed that he was a Navy SEAL, Prisoner of War (POW), a Silver Star recipient, and a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although he never served one day in the military, by submitting VA paperwork claiming he was a POW, he was put at the top of the list and was able to receive healthcare before many other well-deserving veterans.
Meleski submitted a VA compensation form as well, which claimed he suffered from PTSD, allowing him to receive a monthly disability check. Based on Maleski’s indictment, first provided by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Justice Department claimed he had PTSD from “an armed conflict in Beirut in which he rescued injured service members.” Meleski wrote on his VA compensation form that he had been in an “[Eighteen-hour] hostile takeover. Became POW, during this tour. Beaten, shot, head injury, tortured. Hospitalized in Germany for injuries sustained. Crushed hand. Shrapnel.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer went on to say that Melenski said he injured his knee when he had to jump out of a window with a dead SEAL on his back.
To rub some more salt in the wound, Meleski claimed that he was a Silver Star recipient on his VA disability compensation form.
The Justice Department reported that he “also submitted another application to the VA for monetary compensation in which he included obituaries of actual Navy SEALs alongside whom he supposedly served. In short, he traded on the actions of true heroes in an attempt to bolster his false application for monetary benefits.”
In addition, Meleski sought out extra Social Security benefits for injuries he claimed he had sustained while in the military, and falsely testified under oath at a Social Security Administration hearing.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement: “Meleski faked a record as a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL in order to steal numerous forms of compensation, everything about this case is profoundly offensive. Our veterans fought for the freedoms we hold dear, and we owe them a debt that we can never fully repay. But holding individuals like Meleski accountable for their crimes is one small way that we can honor our veterans’ service.”
All in all, Richard Meleski stole over $300,000 in benefits from the VA. He is s awaiting sentencing. He could face up to 68 years in prison, a $2.25 million fine, and a repayment of $302,121.21.