A woman who allegedly defrauded the United States Army out of $100 million to live a lavish lifestyle apparently does not have to worry about losing her retirement benefits.
The woman, identified as 57-year-old Janet Yamanaka Mello, has claimed she “earned” her civil service retirement package even though she allegedly used the money to pay for things only the rich and famous can afford, the New York Post reported Monday.
The Army Times detailed the case in an article published on January 11:
Mello allegedly used the stolen funds to amass a real estate portfolio of 31 properties, a fleet of 78 vehicles, more than $18 million in various bank accounts linked to her, and a jewelry collection, according to court records.
Some of the luxury listings include a roughly $3.1 million, eight-bedroom, 55-car garage, 58-acre estate in Maryland and an approximately $1.1 million home in San Antonio, Texas.
Mello is still under criminal investigation, the recent Post article noted. However, military officials say she is allowed to keep her benefits because they are protected by a federal law upheld in government bureaucracy.
— newslink7.com (@Newslink7com) January 11, 2024
KSAT video footage from December shows Mello leaving a federal courthouse as the investigation into the case continued.
While working as a civilian financial program manager at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Mello allegedly “hatched a plan in 2016 to create a bogus business called Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development so she could siphon funds she received from the Army to herself,” the Post article said, adding she made $130,000 a year in her role.
However, officials with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) noticed and flagged the woman’s suspicious business in 2017 when she logged them on her tax returns.
Although she claimed the business helped military members and their families, it was allegedly used as a front to pay for her own rich lifestyle.
The woman has since been charged with five counts of mail fraud, four counts of engaging in monetary transactions of more than $10,000 with criminally derived proceeds, and a single count of aggravated identity theft.
“She was released without bail and the US District Court for the Western District of Texas awaits a decision on whether Mello strikes a plea deal or faces jury selection and trial on Feb. 12,” the Post article said, adding Mello could face a maximum prison sentence of more than 140 years behind bars if she is found guilty in the case.
A similar case reported on Saturday detailed how a veteran admitted in court that he faked needing a wheelchair to claim $662,871.77 in benefits to which he was not entitled, according to Breitbart News.