Former Civilian Employee Accused Of Scamming Army Out Of $100 Million

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A former civilian employee is accused of defrauding the Army of over $100 million, which she used to buy expensive jewelry, over 70 vehicles and dozens of posh properties.

Last month, Janet Yamanaka Mello, 57, was indicted on 10 counts: five counts of mail fraud, four counts of wiring criminally obtained money and one count of aggravated identity theft, the Department of Justice said in a statement. Mello pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The indictment also includes a notice of forfeiture for any illegally obtained assets.

Court documents obtained by HuffPost outline how Mello set up a shell company, Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development, to obtain dozens of 4-H Military Partnership grants from 2016 to 2022.

The 4-H Military Partnership “focuses on positive youth development through providing opportunities for youth to engage in intentional learning experiences,” according to its website. The grant program is funded by the Army, Navy and Air Force and involves the U.S. Agriculture Department.

As a civilian financial program manager at the Fort Sam Houston Army base in San Antonio, Texas, Mello was in charge of determining whether 4-H program funds “were available for the various entities that applied,” the documents say.

Once she did that, her supervisor approved the funds for the applying entity and the Defense Financial Accounting Service cut the check. It was through this process that Mello secured “over $100,000,000 for herself,” according to the documents.

Though CHYLD claimed to support children of military personnel, the documents claim it provided no services and that Mello “played on the trust she had developed over the years with her supervisors and co-workers to secure the necessary approvals.”

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Mello owned 31 parcels of land as well as a fleet of 78 personal cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles. The report also noted that the government plans on seizing all of this, along with $18 million in cash spread across six bank accounts.

As The Messenger reported, Mello was released without bail and has until Jan. 19 to strike a plea deal. If she doesn’t, she’ll face trial on Feb. 12 in San Antonio.

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