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Former ISS Executive Charged With Allegedly Expensing Sex Workers to NASA

Charles Resnick, former chief economist for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), is accused of allegedly defrauding the government and misusing NASA money.

by Sarah Emerson
Apr 16 2019, 6:01pm

International Space Station. Image: Wikimedia Commons

A former executive at the International Space Station’s (ISS) national laboratory has been hit with federal charges for allegedly using government funds to pay sex workers, including escorts, and for falsifying tax returns.

Charles Resnick served as chief economist for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a Florida-based nonprofit that manages the ISS US National Laboratory.

Between 2011 and 2015, Resnick is accused of defrauding the government, and of expensing “escorts, prostitutes, and commercial sexual activities.”

Such costs were deemed “not part of the ordinary, necessary, and reasonable travel expenses...for which employees could be reimbursed,” according to an indictment viewed by Motherboard.

The charges were filed with the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa last Thursday.

Prosecutors claim that Resnick expensed meetings with sex workers during trips to London, New York City, and other cities. He allegedly concealed the nature of his travels by falsifying hotel letters, receipts, and other documents, the indictment says.

One email reportedly sent by Resnick, and cited by the indictment, was titled, “Letter from Hotel to show your parents for the London Trip;” another was titled “UN Tour.”

“CASIS is fully aware of the recent charges brought against former employee Charles Resnick. In 2015, CASIS immediately cut ties with Mr. Resnick upon discovering his actions, which were in clear violation of company policies and procedures,” Joseph Vockley, CASIS president and CEO, told Motherboard in a statement.

Resnick ceased to be employed by CASIS in 2015 “in connection with a NASA OIG investigation into travel accounting,” according to a story written that year by Keith Cowing of NASA Watch. A CASIS tax document listed Resnick’s salary at the time as $220,000 plus an additional $30,701 in non-taxable benefits.

CASIS eventually told the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) of its findings, which launched a formal investigation into Resnick.

The non-profit was selected by NASA in 2011 to operate a US portion of the ISS that functions as a national laboratory. CASIS receives $15 million annually from NASA through this agreement.

NASA OIG declined to comment on Resnick and the charges made against him.

Prosecutors also claim that Resnick understated his total income on a 2010 tax return by approximately $73,665, partly by inflating his travel deductions.

“A taxpayer could not deduct expenses for escorts and prostitution as business-related expenses,” the indictment says.

Resnick and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.