Civilian employee pleads guilty in $100M Army fraud scheme

Sentencing for Janet Mello rescheduled for July 24

SAN ANTONIOUpdate: Janet Yamanaka Mello was expected to be sentenced on May 29, but that has been rescheduled to July 24.

Original: A civilian employee accused of stealing $100 million from the U.S. Army pleaded guilty to 10 charges in a federal courthouse on Thursday.

Janet Yamanaka Mello, 57, was 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, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Mello is expected to be sentenced on May 29. She will remain on bond.

Mello could face a maximum of 20 years in prison for each fraud charge, a maximum of 10 years for each spending statute charge, and a minimum of two years for the aggravated identity theft charge.

Authorities said Mello worked as a civilian financial program manager at Fort Sam Houston.

She stole more than $100 million in Army funds by claiming Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development provided services to military members and their families, therefore receiving money from the Army, a news release states.

Authorities said Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development, which Mello controlled, did not provide services to that community.

Mello was accused of regularly submitting false paperwork that claimed the services and also falsifying the digital signature of one of her supervisors multiple times.

“The indictment alleges that Mello instead used the funds to buy millions of dollars in jewelry, clothing, vehicles, and real estate,” the release states.

She would also be forced to hand over money and goods she received as a result of the crime.

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Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

Mason Hickok is a digital journalist at KSAT. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a communication degree and a minor in film studies. He also spent two years working at The Paisano, the independent student newspaper at UTSA. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoys the outdoors, reading and watching movies.

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