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Con artist accused of stealing $100m from army allowed to retire with full benefits

Con artist accused of stealing $100m from army allowed to retire with full benefits

Janet Yamanaka Mello is under criminal investigation

A woman who has been accused of stealing millions of dollars from the US Army will still receive her full benefits package.

Janet Yamanaka Mello is currently under criminal investigation for allegedly stealing a staggering $100 million from the government body.

The 57-year-old worked as a civilian financial program manager at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston and is believed to have raked in as much as $130,000 a year in the role.

While already on a decent salary (which was more than double that of the average salary nationwide in the US), Mello went on to create a business titled 'Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development'.

Mello claimed that her business provided services to military members and their families through the 4-H program, but she used the funds on luxury items and real estate.

She's said to have purchased 31 properties across different states, and bought at least 80 vehicles with the money.

In a press release issued last month at the time of Mello's arrest, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said that 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'.

Janet Yamanaka Mello faces jail time for her alleged crimes.

She has been 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.

Mello's said to have started her scamming in 2016, but suspicion wasn't raised until a year later when The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) saw that she'd included 'Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development' on her personal tax returns for 2017.

While the investigation into the matter is still ongoing, the US Army has confirmed that Mello will still be eligible for her retirement benefits.

"The command has no authority to impact Ms. Mello’s retirement," a spokesperson from the Army’s Installation Management Command told the San Antonio Express-News.

Despite the allegations against her, Mello will still receive her retirement package.
Federal Court Docs

"In accordance with 5 US Code Section 8312, an individual may be denied an annuity or retired pay on the basis of the service of the individual, if the individual is convicted of treason, rebellion or insurrection, or other similar offenses. There is no similar statutory authority for denying retired pay based on a conviction of other offenses."

Mello's lawyer has since applauded the decision and insisted that his client 'earned' it.

Albert Flores told the news outlet: "She earned it. I don’t see how one thing is related to the other."

Mello has pleaded not guilty to the charges she's facing and will return to court on February 12.

Featured Image Credit: Federal Court Documents / KSAT

Topics: News, US News, Money, Crime