A former economist employed by a Space Coast nonprofit that operates the International Space Station’s U.S. laboratory pleaded guilty to one tax fraud-related count in an indictment filed last year, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Charles Resnick, once the chief economist for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, was indicted in April by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa on 10 counts. The charges alleged the creation of phony receipts when filing expense reports, as well as hidden spending of government funds on prostitutes and escorts during trips to Europe and New York between 2011 and 2015.
The indictment also alleged Resnick, 69, filed tax returns that understated his income and sought thousands of dollars in improper deductions for expenses he had already been reimbursed for.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice said Resnick, now living in North Carolina, pleaded guilty to one of those tax-related counts – specifically, filing a false income tax return to the IRS. The other charges, according to the plea agreement, will be dropped.
The DOJ specifically pointed to Resnick’s 2012 return, which was filed in October 2013. In it, Resnick said his total income for 2012 was $225,947, which was understated by $209,916 He also failed to report $158,000 in “gross receipts he had earned from consulting clients.”
The DOJ also said he deducted business expenses in the amount of $51,500, despite the facts that “he had been reimbursed for the expenses and some of the expenses were not ordinary and necessary business expenses.”
“For sentencing purposes, Resnick is responsible for the total tax loss for tax years 2010 through and including 2013,” the Middle District of Florida said Wednesday. “That amount will be determined at sentencing.”
In addition, he faces up to three years in federal prison. No date has been set for sentencing.
This case was investigated by NASA, Office of Inspector General, and the IRS.
Resnick was hired by CASIS in 2011 after NASA selected the Space Florida-created nonprofit to run the National Lab aboard the ISS. The lab hosts non-NASA microgravity research on the $100 billion station in low-Earth orbit and receives about $15 million in government funding annually.
CASIS CEO Joseph Vockley said last year his organization cut ties with Resnick in 2015 “upon discovering his actions, which were in clear violation of company policies and procedures.”
Contact Emre Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly. Support his space journalism by subscribing at floridatoday.com/specialoffer/.