Former official conned NASA-funded lab into paying for trips to see prostitutes and escorts, feds say
By ELI ROSENBERG | The Washington Post | Published: April 18, 2019
A former chief economist and consultant who worked for the United States' lab at the International Space Station has been charged by federal authorities with wire fraud for a pattern of expensing visits to escorts and prostitutes in cities around the world, officials say.
Charles R. Resnick, who worked for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit that manages the International Space Station National Lab and is funded by NASA, was charged in an indictment filed on April 11 by federal prosecutors in central Florida.
Resnick was arrested around that time and released on bond on April 12, said William Daniels, a spokesman for Maria Chapa Lopez, the U.S. attorney for Middle Florida. Daniels declined to comment further.
According to the indictment, Resnick arranged to meet escorts and prostitutes in such cities as London and New York, using fabricated documents and later submitted reimbursement requests for the trips. Resnick provided "materially false and fraudulent information about the purpose of travel, activities on trips, and the expenditure of funds," the indictment says, saying the activity took place between 2011 and 2015.
"Expenses incurred for escorts, prostitutes, and commercial sexual activities were not part of the ordinary, necessary, and reasonable travel expenses or related expenses for which employees could be reimbursed," it notes.
Resnick did not respond to a message left at a phone number listed for him in court records. His lawyer, James Felman, did not respond to a request for comment.
"CASIS is fully aware of the recent charges brought against former employee Charles Resnick," Joseph Vockley, CASIS president and CEO, told reporters in a statement. "In 2015, CASIS immediately cut ties with Mr. Resnick upon discovering his actions, which were in clear violation of company policies and procedures."
Vockley said that an internal investigation of Resnick's travel history had been referred to the Office of the Inspector General of NSAS around that time.
"CASIS has fully cooperated with the OIG's investigation and will continue to do so," he said. "We will not have any further comment while this criminal matter is pending."
Resnick is also charged with filing false tax returns related to the way he reported his business expenses.
As chief economist, Resnick had a salary of $220,000, according to the website NASA Watch.
According to Motherboard, CASIS began operating the U.S. laboratory portion of the International Space Station in 2011, for which it receives about $15 million in funding a year.