Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Pennsylvania man accused of faking record as Navy SEAL, POW to steal $300K in benefits
A 58-year-old Bucks County man was indicted for falsely claiming he was a Navy SEAL and prisoner of war — he never served a day in the military — in order to steal more than $300,000 in government benefits, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced Monday.
Richard Meleski of Chalfont was arrested and charged in federal court with health-care fraud, mail fraud, stolen valor, and related offenses in connection with his alleged scheme to obtain health-care benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.
"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.
In reality, Meleski "never served in the United States military" and was "in the state of New Jersey, not Beirut, at the time of his claimed incidents," according to the indictment.
Because of his false claims, Meleski was given priority over actual veterans and received "completely free health care with no copays or premiums," prosecutors said.
Meleski fraudulently obtained $299,849.31 in health care and $2,271.90 in prescription medications from the VA from 2010 until this year, prosecutors allege.
From 2016 until last year, he claimed that he was unable to work and used the same phony record to obtain disability benefits from Social Security, the indictment allege.
Meleski's claim was initially denied, but he appealed and falsely testified at a hearing about his record. An administrative law judge sided with him, prosecutors said. He then received an unspecified amount of disability payments.
If convicted on all counts, Meleski would face 68 years in prison, $302,121.21 in restitution, and a $2,250,000 fine.
©2019 The Philadelphia Inquirer - Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A collision between a Coast Guard boat and a Navy vessel near Kodiak Island, Alaska on Wednesday landed six coasties and three sailors to the hospital, officials said.
The Navy has identified the two Defense Department civilians who were killed in a shooting Wednesday at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii.
A shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida has left four people dead, including the gunman, law enforcement officials said at a Friday news conference.
The shooter and two victims were killed at the base and another victim died after being taken to the hospital, said Chip Simmons, deputy chief of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
Another seven people remain hospitalized, including two sheriff's deputies who engaged the gunman, Simmons said at Friday's news conference. One was hit in the arm and the other was shot in the knee. Both are expected to recover.
Widespread sexism and gender bias in the Marine Corps hasn't stopped hundreds of female Marines from striving for the branch's most dangerous, respected and selective jobs.
Six years after the Pentagon officially opened combat roles to women in 2013, 613 female Marines and sailors now serve in them, according to new data released by the Marine Corps.
"Females are now represented in every previously-restricted occupational field," reads a powerpoint released this month on the Marine Corps Integration Implementation Plan (MCIIP), which notes that 60% of those female Marines and sailors now serving in previously-restricted units joined those units in the past year.
The troubled 22-year-old Pearl Harbor sailor identified as shooting three shipyard workers Wednesday and then killing himself may have come from a troubled ship.
Gabriel Romero, a sailor on the submarine USS Columbia, fatally shot two civilian workers and wounded a third while the Los Angeles-class vessel is in Dry Dock 2 for a two-year overhaul, according to The Associated Press and other sources.
Romero "opened fire on shipyard personnel with his M-4 service rifle and then turned his M9 service pistol on himself," Fox News Pentagon reporter Lucas Tomlinson reported, citing a preliminary incident report.
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was not able to provide information Thursday on a report that multiple suicides have occurred on the Columbia.
Hawaii News Now said Romero was undergoing disciplinary review and was enrolled in anger management classes.