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U.S. Army Employee Nicknamed the 'Gucci Goddess' Pleads Guilty to Stealing $108 Million in Army Funds The alleged scheme played out over the course of seven years.

By Emily Rella

entrepreneur daily

An employee of the U.S. Army is under fire after being accused of stealing $108 million in Army funds to spend on personal luxury goods including lavish clothing, cars, and homes.

Janet Yamanaka Mello, 57, pleaded guilty on February 29 to five counts of mail fraud and five counts of false tax return filings after being indicted in December for reportedly submitting fraudulent paperwork requesting money from the U.S. Army for an organization she was running called the Child Health and Youth Lifelong Development (CHYLD).

The catch, however, was that the organization did not exist. Instead, Mello is accused of using the funds to purchase designer goods from Gucci and Louis Vuitton, an estimated 80 cars and motorcycles, 31 properties across four states, and an estimated $18 million placed into six bank accounts.

Related: Famous Philly Eatery Owners Jailed for $8M Tax Fraud Scheme

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the purchases included a $3.1 million estate in Preston, Maryland that sits on 58 acres and two Aston Martins.

The outlet reports that Mello earned the nickname of "the Gucci goddess" by local couriers over the volume of luxury packages being delivered to her address.

Mello was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas as a civilian financial program manager for the Army throughout the seven-year-long scheme.

In August, authorities raided her home.

Following the raid, the U.S. army allowed her to retire with full benefits.

Mello was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas working as a civilian financial program manager for the Army throughout the duration of the seven-year-long scheme.

Related: Father-Son Duo to Serve Time for $20 Million Lottery Scheme

Mello was initially flagged after reporting the CHYLD organization on her personal tax return form in 2017, which reported a $483 profit on $2,152 revenue, and then never filed tax returns for the business again.

Mello is facing a maximum sentence of 125 years in prison — 20 years for each count of mail fraud and five years for each count of tax fraud.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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