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Hands Are Tied

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

So, Janet Yamanaka, the U.S. Army, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) walk into court. The IRS says Janet Yamanaka is a fraudster. Yamanaka claims she did her job. And the U.S. Army says their hands are tied. Typical day in the world of fraud. Alleged con artist, Janet Yamanaka Mello is accused of scamming the U.S. Army out of $100 million. But despite the ongoing criminal investigations, Mello was recently allowed to retire with full benefits. Because she is protected under federal law despite what scheme she invented to steal from the U.S. citizen. Is anyone surprised?

Mello, who worked as a civilian financial program manager at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, created in 2016 a shell company which she fraudulently used to collect money from a 4-H military partnership grant. 4-H emphasizes the practical application of “learning by doing” in order to acquire a sense of responsibility, initiative, and self-worth. Seems similar to the practice of a fraudster. Mello claimed her business provided services to military members and their families. But really, she just funded herself. With fraudulent cash, Mello purchased 31 properties in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington. Along with the massive amount of real estate she was buying, Mello also purchased at least 80 vehicles.

It was the IRS that finally flagged Mello’s lifestyle. Seems that buying million-dollar homes multiple times a year was not supportable by Mello’s given salary. The IRS criminal investigations division worked with army investigators as they put the pieces of the puzzle together. Mello was criminally indicted in December 2023. So Mello should lose everything? No. Because apparently, the law says so. “In accordance with 5 U.S. Code Section 8312, an individual may be denied an annuity or retired pay…if the individual is convicted of treason, rebellion or insurrection, or other similar offenses.” Although, some could argue that stealing $100 million from the U.S. Army could be considered treason, rebellion or insurrection against the United States.

Mello’s trial is scheduled for February 12, 2024. If found guilty, Mello faces a maximum prison sentence of 142 years. And the bad news is she could get her pension for any time she might serve.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on “Con artist accused of stealing $100M from Army to spend on luxe homes, cars is allowed to retire with full benefits: ‘I earned it’” published by The New York Post on January 29, 2024

A con artist who is accused of defrauding the U.S. Army out of $100 million has been given the green light to retire with full benefits.

Janet Yamanaka Mello, 57, who is under criminal investigation, brazenly claims she “earned” her civil service retirement package despite allegedly using the funds to purchase over 30 homes, luxury cars and jewelry through the seven-year scheme.

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