What the Fraud!?

Published: 2024-01-22 00:00:00

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2024 is starting off like a roller coaster. With highs of new movies and projects to come during the year and lows of stealing in this case. A civilian working in the financial sector of the U.S. Army somehow managed to steal over $100 million dollars from 2016 until now. You read that correctly: not $1 million, not $10 million, but $100 million. What did the civilian worker spend this money on? Houses / properties, cars, and other luxuries.

How did this happen? She opened a company called the "Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development" that was supposed to provide services to military children through the 4-H Military Partnership Grant program. She then regularly filed false documents that indicated that her company was entitled to receive funds from the United States Army. She was never suspected because she had worked with the Army for so long that neither the DoD nor the Army would dream that she would steal money meant for enriching the lives of military-linked children. With the money she was able to get, Janet Y. Mello amassed a real estate portfolio of 31 properties, a fleet of 78 vehicles, and liquid assets of more than $18 million linked to her.

What happens to everything she purchased with the stolen Army money? It all has to be forfeited, and yes that includes any proceeds she acquired with that money as well. She also allegedly forged one of her superior's signatures regularly as well. So, what will happen to her if she is convicted? In short, a lot of jail time. Mello is 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 according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas. There is a maximum penalty of 20 years for each fraud charge and up to 10 years in prison for each spending statute charge and a mandatory minimum of two years for the identity theft charge. 

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