An Army civilian employee is accused of bilking more than $100 million from the service — funds that were meant to be used for military children — in what is likely among the largest scams by a single person in its history, according to the Justice Department.
Janet Yamanaka Mello, 57, was indicted Wednesday on 10 counts related to the fraud scheme, including mail fraud, criminal handling of money and aggravated identity theft. If convicted, Mello faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each fraud charge, up to 10 years in prison for each spending statute charge, and a mandatory two years in prison for the identity theft charge — a total of 142 years.
The scheme includes years of deception, according to federal authorities. It wasn't uncovered for nearly seven years, and in that time she allegedly accumulated a real-estate portfolio and amassed a collection of homes and luxury goods to match some of America's most elite moguls and titans of industry.
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Mello worked at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, as a financial program manager. Part of her job included determining funding for a grant program the military uses to supplement civilian partners. In 2016, Mello formed a shell nonprofit company, prosecutors say, called Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development, or CHYLD.
Mello has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
For years, she allegedly processed…