OAN’s Abril Elfi
3:12 PM – Thursday, January 11, 2024
A woman in Texas has been accused of stealing over $100 million in funds from the United States Army and using the money to buy luxurious personal items.
According to a Wednesday press release that was posted by the Department of Justice, 57-year-old Janet Yamanaka Mello now faces more than 140 years in prison. Mello previously created a phony business called “Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development” in order to illegally save funds that she had stolen from the Army.
“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,” they stated.
Mello created her fraudulent business Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development (CHYLD) in 2016 and claimed that it provided services to military service members and their families through the 4-H program.
According to reports, the 4-H Military program “focuses on positive youth development through providing opportunities for youth to engage in intentional learning experiences.”
However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flagged Mello’s company when she included it on her personal tax returns in 2017, reporting a $483 profit on a $2,152 revenue. Since 2017, she had not filed any taxes for CHYLD.
Mello had purchased 31 different real estate properties in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington.
One of her purchases was an eight-bedroom, twelve-bath mansion in Preston, Maryland, with 55 garage spaces on 58 acres, and it was appraised at $3.1 million, according to the outlet.
Another one of her costly purchases involved a $2.3 million home with four bedrooms, six bathrooms, and 35 acres in Castle Rock, Colorado.
In addition to the quantity of real estate Mello was acquiring, she also reportedly bought 78 cars, which included a 1955 Ferrari Fratelli 165 Racer, sixteen Harley-Davidsons, five Triumphs, four Ducatis, two BMWs, a 2018 Maserati GranTurismo, a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1966 Ford Mustang, five Mercedes-Benzes, and two Aston Martins.
According to authorities, they have also taken over six different bank accounts connected to Mello that were holding $18 million altogether.
In December, Mello was arrested and 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 was later released without being granted bail, and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas is currently awaiting word on whether she will accept a plea bargain by January 19th or proceed with a jury trial and selection on February 12th.
If Mello is found guilty, she faces up to 142 years in prison.
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