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The Texas “Gucci Goddess” who stole millions from the US Army and splurged on luxurious homes, cars and handbags pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud and tax charges.

Janet Yamanaka Mello was accused of defrauding the government out of $108 million while working as a civilian financial program manager at Fort Sam Houston.

Janet Yamanaka Mello pleaded guilty to fraud charges after she siphoned money from the US Army through a fake business she created to buy luxury items. Federal Court Docs

She reportedly pleaded guilty to all five counts of mail fraud and five counts of filing a false tax return with the US District Court for the Western District of Texas following charges from Dec. 2023, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Mello, 57, created the fake vendor Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development (CHYLD) in 2016 and provided services to military members’ families through the 4-H program, which “focuses on positive youth development through providing opportunities for youth to engage in intentional learning experiences.”

During her seven-year-long scheme, prosecutors said the company had only been used to steal money from the US government and never provided any financial aid to the program.

Instead, the con artist used the funds to fuel her and her husband’s lavish lifestyle.

She purchased 31 different real estate properties in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington.

Her mansion in Preston, Maryland, valued at $3.1 million, was on a sprawling 58-acre property and featured eight bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, and 55 garage spaces.

Prosecutors said the company she created had only been used to steal money from the US government and never provided any financial aid to the program. KSAT

Mello also bought more than 80 vintage high-performance cars and motorcycles, which included four Ducatis, 16 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, two Aston Martins, a 1966 Ford Mustang and a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette — some of which are valued at more than $150,000.

The fraudster had so many luxury-brand packages from companies like Coach, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton being delivered to one of her homes that she garnered the nickname “the Gucci Goddess” by couriers, according to the outlet.

“She’d have expensive jewelry or say she’d just been here or there and that it was all possible because of her rich husband,” an acquaintance of Mello, who wished to remain anonymous, told the outlet.

“She’d come in her Mercedes or Land Rover and say, ‘It’s a gift from my rich husband.’”

Among her purchases was a 1966 Ford Mustang (not the one pictured.) Sue Thatcher

Her ruse was unearthed when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flagged Mello’s suspicious business after she included it on her personal tax returns in 2017, reporting a $483 profit on a $2,152 revenue.

She had not filed tax returns for CHYLD since 2017.

The IRS’ criminal investigation division then launched a probe with the Army’s criminal investigators.

Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. U.S. Army Center of Military History

Both agencies then raided Mello’s home in August, according to the outlet.

Following the raid, Mello’s supervisors at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston allowed the scammer to retire with full benefits — with the military admitting they could not withhold her benefits.

An Army spokesperson told the outlet the command had “no authority to impact Ms. Mello’s retirement.”

The fraudster had so many luxury-brand packages from companies like Coach, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton being delivered to one of her homes that she garnered the nickname “the Gucci Goddess” by couriers. cobalt

Albert Flores, Mello’s attorney, told the outlet his client “earned” her retirement benefits and doesn’t “see how one thing is related to the other.”

Investigators noted the theft was possible due to the Army’s slipup.

Along with recouping money by seizing her multiple properties, the government also plans on going after more than $18 million it found in six bank accounts linked to Mello or CHYLD, documents show.

One account is reportedly linked to a cattle company Mello formed with her husband.

Her husband has not charged.

Mello faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each mail fraud count and five years for each tax fraud count.

She’s currently facing a prison sentence of 125 years but could receive less than the maximum penalties due to her striking a plea deal.

Her plea hearing in federal court has yet to be scheduled.

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