US Army employee pleads guilty to stealing more than $100M

9:37 08.03.2024 •

Janet Mello with a lawyer.

A U.S. Army employee pleaded guilty to defrauding the government following allegations she stole $108 million in Army funds to spend on personal items, including jewelry, clothing, cars and homes.

Janet Yamanaka Mello, 57, was accused of defrauding the government out of $108 million while working as a civilian financial program manager at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. She pleaded guilty to all five counts of mail fraud and five counts of filing a false tax return after she was indicted in December, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Mello was accused of engaging in a fraud scheme in which she allegedly had regularly submitted fraudulent paperwork requesting funding from the Army for her Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development, or CHYLD, organization.

The indictment claims Mello's CHYLD "did not provide any services" and that she instead used the funds to purchase millions of dollars in jewelry, clothing, vehicles and real estate.

According to federal prosecutors, she was initially 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, following allegations she falsified the digital signature of a supervisor on multiple occasions.

Mello began the scheme for the military's 4-H program in 2016 and was accused of submitting fraudulent paperwork and receiving checks at UPS mailboxes she rented. Court documents show Mello used the funds to purchase expensive meals, designer clothing, 31 real estate properties and about 80 vintage high-performance cars and motorcycles.

After many luxury-brand packages from companies like Coach, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton were delivered to one of her homes, she was nicknamed "the Gucci Goddess" by couriers, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The U.S. government is investigating the 31 properties under her name in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Washington, as well as about 80 motorcycles and $18 million discovered in six bank accounts.


read more in our Telegram-channel