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Army employee accused of stealing over $100M from military youth program to buy homes, jewelry and cars: DOJ

An Army civilian employee allegedly stole more than $100 million through a yearslong fraud scheme to enrich herself, the Department of Justice said.

An Army employee is facing multiple decades in prison for allegedly stealing more than $100 million in military funds to purchase luxury cars, jewelry and more than 30 homes by falsifying receipts and expenditures.

Janet Yamanaka Mello, 57, worked as a civilian financial program manager at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, when she created a fake business in 2016, to purportedly assist military children, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

The “Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development” was supposed to provide services to military children through the 4-H Military Partnership Grant program. Instead, Mello used the funds to enrich herself, federal prosecutors said. 


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“Mello allegedly stole more than $100 million in Army funds by regularly submitting fraudulent paperwork that indicated an entity she controlled was entitled to receive funds from the Army,” a DOJ release said. 

The 4-H program is intended to provide “meaningful youth development opportunities for military-connected children,” a federal complaint states. Part of Mello’s job was to determine whether 4-H program funds were available for the various entities that applied. 

Mello’s supervisor would then sign off on the distribution of funds to the applicants. 

Once approved, Mello directed the funds be sent to a UPS store mailbox near San Antonio that she rented, and deposited the check in her own bank account, authorities said. 

“All in all, [Mello] went through this process over forty times during a six-year period, securing over $100,000,000 for herself in the process,” the DOJ said. 

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Instead of using the funds to provide services, Mello spent millions of dollars on jewelry, clothing, vehicles, and real estate, federal prosecutors said. She allegedly purchased 31 pieces of real estate in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington, the San Antonio Express-News reported. 

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Mello is charged with five counts of mail fraud, four counts of engaging in a monetary transaction over $10,000 using criminally derived proceeds and one count of aggravated identity theft for allegedly falsifying the digital signature of one of her supervisors “on multiple occasions.”

Mello appeared in federal court on Dec. 14, the DOJ said. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the Army and Mello’s attorney for comment. 

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