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Ex-space station official used government funds to meet prostitutes, indictment alleges

The Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse in Tampa [Times]
Published Apr. 12

TAMPA — A former administrator for the nonprofit that manages the national laboratory of the International Space Station has been indicted on federal charges that he used government funds to pay for high-end prostitutes.

Charles R. Resnick faces a 10-count indictment that includes charges of wire fraud and making a false tax return.

Resnick, 68, who lives in Tampa, was a consultant and later the director of economic evaluation and chief economist for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, known as CASIS. It's a nonprofit funded by NASA to manage the ISS National Laboratory of the International Space Station.

The indictment accuses Resnick of arranging to meet escorts and prostitutes in places like London and New York City, then fabricating hotel letters and receipts to conceal the nature of his trips. He used the faked documents to obtain reimbursements for his travel expenses, prosecutors allege.

The charging document also accuses Resnick of understating his income and seeking improper tax deductions on expenses for which he had been reimbursed.

"A taxpayer could not deduct expenses for escorts and prostitution as business-related expenses," the indictment states.

Part of the indictment references six emails and requests for reimbursement that Resnick is said to have sent between the years 2011 and 2015. One email was sent in October 2011 to a person identified by the initials "P.J." The subject line is written in English and the Czech language, and reads "Letter from Hotel to show your parents for the London trip." Another email, sent in December 2014, was sent to a person with the initials "E.B." and includes the subject line "UN Tour." The contents of the email messages were not detailed in the indictment.

Joseph Vockley, the president and chief executive officer for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, said in a statement that it cut ties with Resnick after becoming aware of his activities in 2015.

"We immediately launched a full investigation into Mr. Resnick's travel and accounting practices resulting in referral to the NASA OIG (Office of Inspector General)," the statement said. "CASIS has fully cooperated with the OIG's investigation and will continue to do so. We will not have any further comment while this criminal matter is pending."

Court records show Resnick was arrested Friday morning, appeared before a magistrate in a federal courtroom in Tampa, and was later released on his own recognizance. The magistrate allowed him to travel to North and South Carolina and to go abroad with the permission of a pretrial services agency.

Neither Resnick nor his attorney returned calls for comment.

Contact Dan Sullivan at dsullivan@tampabay.com. Follow @TimesDan.

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