Fake SEAL, VA fraudster headed to prison

| September 9, 2021 | 22 Comments

It’s been a while since we originally covered Richard Meleski. Our original piece can be found here, and the update when some other nefarious activities of Meleski’s was brought to our attention. He claimed to be a US Navy SEAL and to have been a prisoner of war in Beirut. Everyone thought he was a bona fide hero, including the VA. It turns out that he had never spent a day in the service, but he did spend time in and out of prisons. Arson seems to be one of his favorite pastimes. He’s now being sent to prison again, but this time for his stolen valor antics.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer;

For nearly a decade, Richard Meleski told almost anyone who would listen about the 18 hours he said he spent as a prisoner of war in Beirut in the 1980s.

As the story went, he and his fellow members of Navy SEAL Team Six were captured by hostiles who shattered his hand with a hammer. They executed one of his teammates. And with the body of another slung over his shoulder, he escaped by diving out a window — a feat of valor, he said, that earned him top military honors but left him with injuries and post-traumatic stress that he has struggled with ever since.

As far as everyone in his life was concerned — his long-term girlfriend, his employers, his doctors at the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center in Philadelphia — Meleski was a hero.

But not a single word of his story was true.

In fact, he had never served one day in the military. Most of the time he claimed to have been stationed overseas he had actually spent in and out of New Jersey prisons.

Still, Meleski, of Chalfont, used that whopper of a story to bilk the Department of Veterans Affairs out of more than $300,000 in health care between 2010 and 2019. And on Wednesday, he was sentenced to 40 months in prison for it.

“What I see is a 60-year-old pretender who flagrantly scammed the VA at the expense of those who deserve it,” U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Savage told him at the end of the hearing. “A man who lived years in a fantasy.”

Pressed by the judge to explain why, Meleski, slump-shouldered and struggling with his words, offered a shrug and a litany of apologies.

“I guess I wanted to be someone who I wasn’t,” he said, adding later: “To all the veterans, my girlfriend — my ex-girlfriend, I should say — and all the people I caused shame to, I’m so very sorry from the deepest layer of my heart and soul.”

His lawyer, federal public defender Nancy MacEoin, offered more by way of explanation, calling the true story of her client’s life “a pretty sad tale.” Born in Scranton, he had a troubled childhood after his mother died and he moved to New Jersey with his father, an Air Force veteran.

“This is a man,” she said, “who seemingly does not believe that he deserves other people’s affection” without wild stories that make him out to be the hero.

Meleski’s fondness for fabrication became clear in early adulthood.

While working as a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey in the early 1980s, he was convicted of secretly setting fires so that he could later put them out and bask in public acclaim.

A string of other arson convictions followed — including one in 2003 at a Catholic hermitage in Morris County, N.J., where he had been living with a group of nuns. The priest who oversaw the facility said that just before Meleski burned down two of its cottages he had been caught stockpiling altar wine.

The July 2020 court appearance when Meleski stood before Savage to plead guilty to counts including health-care fraud, falsifying military records, and falsely claiming military service may have been one of the few times in recent years that Meleski was telling the truth.

The sentence Savage imposed Wednesday included time for a separate case in which Meleski has admitted he induced his girlfriend to buy two pistols for him that he, as a convicted felon, was not legally allowed to own.

In addition to the prison term, the judge ordered him to pay more than $300,000 in restitution to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There’s some more detail in the source that I had to trim for brevity. Suffice to say, I don’t think we’ll be missing Meleski while he’s in prison.

 

Category: Beirut, Crime, Phony SEAL, Valor Vultures

Comments (22)

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  1. An Old Arty Sgt says:

    I’m glad that he was finally expose. The VA is not user friendly when it comes to exposing these fakes. I have been trying for 3 years to tell them they are paying VA Benefits to someone based on lies and they will not do anything about it. Yes, I have proof and they just turn away. Would love to see somewhere that you can give information to about these clowns. Don’t say the VA Office of the IG, they are the ones that wrote back and told me that’s not something we would investigate. Good care at the VA, but they do nothing about fake claims.

    • MarineDad61 says:

      An Old Arty Sgt,
      That sucks.
      I had initial difficulty being seen in fall 1991,
      being viewed as an intruder,
      seeking freebies, and initially not believed.
      Eventually, it happened,
      but not before being asked things like
      “What drugs are you here for?”
      and
      “Were you in Saddam’s headquarters, too?”

      And only after a neurologist brought me in a side door,
      led me to the room with the old Asian nurse with the electrodes,
      and the jolts in my thighs made me kick like a horse,
      but the jolts in my feet only buzzed.

      Only after that day’s visit,
      was I brought to the front, and given a blue VA card.

      So, by the time I walked in,
      there was significant long time Vietnam Era Veteran crap going on at the VA, and the 1991 influx of new Gulf War crap was well underway.

      I wonder who, when, and why,
      chose to turn the VA into an easy waltz walk-in for malingerers and phonies.
      Ugh.

  2. A Proud Infidel®™️ says:

    I have zero fucks to give about him, I’m sure that he’s only sorry he got caught. I’m sure that Bubba, Thor and Company will be straightening his ass out in no time, sooner or later he’ll run out of ramen cups to pay for protection!

    • KoB says:

      My field, too, is barren, and I have none to give, API. And even if I had a bumper crop, this bitch, POS, lying scum, pyromaniac wouldn’t get a single one.

      Enjoy you time as a prisoner of love in Cell Block C.

  3. Roh-Dog says:

    But I know some people that was there with him when that happened! It was Petty General Meleslaw here, Major Corporal Daffy Duck, Lieutenant Private Micky Mouse, their ‘terp Br’er Rabbit.
    Not only did they help him escape the terrys in bay-root, they were the ones stealing the wine.
    Don’t mak’im take the pills that take away his friends!

  4. Tallywhagger says:

    Another shit-bagger from Scranton, not in anyway to impugn nor malign Scranton. Hell, Scranton was blessed to be rid of him and SlowBiden.

  5. Green Thumb says:

    That All-Points Logistics training comes in handy.

    Phildo’s brother from another mother.

  6. Hatchet says:

    Appalling little man who’s now going to the only ‘barracks’ he’ll ever qualify for. Good luck, Chuck er Dick. Whatever..
    GOOD RIDDANCE!!!

  7. MarineDad61 says:

    Philadelphia VA sure looks INCOMPETENT.
    Who is doing the hiring, being hired, and put to work in the
    RECORDS ELIGIBILITY & VERIFICATION DEPARTMENT??
    Ugh.

    • Fyrfighter says:

      Guarantee that no-one there is being hired because of their skills or qualifications. You can bet that they’re all quota hires of one stripe or another, and likely not qualified to work as a dog walker.

  8. 26Limabeans says:

    “I’m so very sorry from the deepest layer of my heart and soul”

    I’m in tears. You don’t often come across such genuine remorse.
    Have him spend the 40 months in a Beirut prison.

    • MarineDad61 says:

      26L,
      That deepest layer is
      somewhere between his stomach and his rectum.

    • rgr769 says:

      40 months means he will only serve 30 months. Two and a half years is not much of a sentence. The judge should have tacked another ten years on his sentence for his possession of two pistols by a convicted felon. Each one could have resulted in a five year sentence. Yet, here we go again, the gun laws on the books are not being enforced against career criminals.

      • rgr769 says:

        Also, his girlfriend should be prosecuted for two counts of doing a straw purchase of those two pistols, also a federal crime. But then I guess federal gun control laws are only for show.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Get used to it, tubby:

    • Berliner says:

      It will cure his constipation but squealing may be difficult for him with two lines of cell mates meeting him in the middle.

      He’ll just have to moan to show his enthusiasm for all his new friends.

  10. OWB says:

    Good, for the conviction. Not so good on the only 40 months. And somehow never expect to see any of the $300K.

    Oh, well. Better than nothing.

  11. 5JC says:

    “This is a man,” she said, “who seemingly does not believe that he deserves other people’s affection”

    They may be on to something there.

  12. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    40 months… not long enough.

    The boys in Cell Block “C” are gonna have fun with their new bunkie…

  13. Dustoff says:

    Man, it’s like everyone in my age group (Post Vietnam) was in Beirut. Just so y’all know I was not there. However at my VA appointment today, I saw at least three Dudes with “Special Forces Vietnam” lids on their heads. All of whom looked like they live under bridges.

    • rgr769 says:

      Everyone who served as a truck driver, cook, mechanic, TAERS clerk, or leg wire dog wants to lie and say they were Special Forces, but none of them wanted to actually do that dangerous Special Forces stuff back in their time on AD, like jumping out of an aircraft at night with 70 pounds of gear strapped to your parachute harness. Anyone think these ball cap wearing turds would have volunteered to do a night HALO jump over enemy territory in the Viet of the Nam, like a few MACV-SOG recon teams did?

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