A 58-year-old Bucks County man charged by federal prosecutors with pretending to be a Navy SEAL and wounded POW to steal $300,000 in veterans benefits, was previously convicted in four separate cases of arson, including setting fire to cottages at a Roman Catholic hermitage for nuns devoted to prayers and silence.

A federal magistrate judge on Tuesday ruled that Richard Meleski, of Chalfont, would remain behind bars until his health-care fraud and stolen-valor case goes to trial or is otherwise resolved.

"Society is entitled to be protected from his criminal propensities, whether they incline him to burn things down or steal from veterans, their widows, and their orphans," wrote Magistrate Judge Richard A. Lloret in a six-page order.

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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.

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