By CBS Baltimore Staff

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A former senior NASA employee who cheated the government out of nearly $275,000 in pandemic-related financial assistance has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The sentence imposed Thursday on Andrew Tezna, 36, of Leesburg, Virginia, was roughly in line with the 21-month sentence sought by federal prosecutors in Alexandria. Tezna’s lawyer had asked for a sentence of home detention.

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Tezna pleaded guilty to fraud after submitting bogus applications under the government’s Paycheck Protection Program. He concocted businesses in his own name and that of his mother-in-law, and grossly inflated the scope of a side business owned by his wife.

He also falsely filed for unemployment benefits on behalf of his mother-in-law, who was retired.

During the fraud, Tezna was making more than $180,000 annually working in NASA’s financial offices. He used the money to pay off a swimming pool, credit cards, and a Disney timeshare. He also paid more than $6,000 to a dog breeder for a French bulldog.

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In all, Tezna admitted to applying for more than $350,000 in benefits and receiving more than $270,000.

Tezna’s lawyer said in court papers that Tezna lost his NASA job and is now earning $14 a hour at a home-improvement store.

 

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CBS Baltimore Staff