Man accused of faking Navy SEAL record was previously convicted of setting fire to New Jersey cottages that housed nuns
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.
Lloret also cited a pretrial report that Meleski’s fiancée admitted to illegally purchasing two guns for Meleski in 2017. She said one of the guns had since been sold and the other was still at their Chalfont home. Prosecutors said Meleski was not forthcoming about the guns and federal investigators still did not know their whereabouts.
Nancy MacEoin, the assistant federal defender assigned to represent Meleski, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced Monday that Meleski had been arrested and charged with an alleged yearslong scheme to obtain health-care benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.
Meleski claimed to have served as a Navy SEAL in Beirut during the 1980s. He said that during that time he was beaten, shot, and tortured while held as a prisoner of war, then heroically jumped out a window carrying a dead SEAL on his back, and awarded the Silver Star for his actions, prosecutors allege.
In reality, Meleski “never served in the United States military” and was “in the state of New Jersey, not …read more
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