She Stole $100M From Who?!

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( – In one of the most striking stories of fraud in America, a 57-year-old accused of scamming the U.S. Army out of a stunning $100 million is surprisingly allowed to retire with all her benefits intact.

Despite being under a criminal investigation, Janet Yamanaka Mello boldly claims she deserves her civil service retirement package. The shocking part is that she allegedly used the massive amount of money to buy over 30 houses, luxury vehicles, and expensive jewelry over seven years.

The situation is complex because of a federal law that protects Mello’s retirement benefits. This law is so strong that even the Army cannot do anything about it.

As the Army spokesperson explained to the San Antonio Express-News, Mello could only lose her benefits if she is found guilty of crimes like treason. However, the law does not cover the offenses for which she is accused.

Mello’s scheme is quite elaborate. She was a civilian financial program manager at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and started a fake business in 2016 called Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development. She then used the company to divert Army funds to herself, earning a hefty $130,000 per year.

The Internal Revenue Service caught onto Mello’s suspicious activities in 2017 when she included her business on her tax returns. Despite this, her retirement plan is secured by the Federal Employee Retirement Service, which covers a basic benefit plan, Social Security, and a savings plan.

The Department of Justice released a statement in December 2023 stating that Mello “allegedly stole more than $100 million in Army funds by regularly submitting fraudulent paperwork.”

While she claimed her business provided services to military families, she used the money to fund her luxurious life. Mello acquired 31 properties in various states and at least 80 vehicles. The authorities also found over $18 million in cash in six accounts linked to her.

After her arrest, Mello was charged with mail fraud and engaging in large monetary transactions with criminally derived funds. Released without bail, she awaits a decision from the US District Court for the Western District of Texas. She could face up to 142 years in prison if found guilty.