Origami ‘Con Man’

Federal government-backed condom inventor accused of massive fraud

NIH grant recipient and ORIGAMI Condom inventor Daniel Resnic / ORIGAMI Condom Vimeo
May 1, 2014

The inventor of the "origami condom" has been accused of fraud and having used taxpayer money to go on lavish trips, attend parties at the Playboy mansion, get plastic surgery in Costa Rica, and purchase a condo in Provincetown, Mass.

Daniel Resnic received over $2.4 million to develop "origami condoms," a silicone-based condom modeled off of the ancient Japanese art of folding paper. He received an initial grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to finance a "feasibility study" of his first model in 2006, and subsequently received grants to develop male, female, and anal versions between 2009 and 2012.

Now a former employee is alleging that Resnic spent grant money for his personal use and acted against rules for clinical studies, having friends try out his condoms and report back.

The employee, who requested anonymity, provided documents to the Washington Free Beacon detailing numerous expenses made by Resnic. He also turned over internal office memos that reveal Resnic’s quest for fame and fortune.

The employee said he was new to Los Angeles in 2009 when he first met Resnic, who approached him while he was working in a retail job.

"He essentially offered a job out of the blue to be a Project Coordinator," the employee said. "I was a little taken aback because I didn’t know what that was. I didn’t have experience in clinical research, or project management."

From then on he acted as Resnic’s personal assistant, booking travel for expensive vacations in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Costa Rica.

"I was under this impression that he was this rich, lonely man," the employee said. "He thought of himself as an inventor, as an entrepreneur. Every day he thought he had a new idea, everyday I would be reaching out to a really expensive patent attorney."

"There was an incident where he actually took me to Costa Rica, he had full body plastic surgery," he said. "If there’s a procedure, he had it done. Lips. Eyelids. Things that I’ve never heard of. New teeth."

In an email from Resnic on March 26, 2010, he tells two friends who will join him in Costa Rica about his recovery.

"Feeling better. Looking better. I’ll be more healed when you guys arrive," Resnic wrote. "My stitches and nose guard come out tonight."

"My perm. dental work is installed on Apr 7th, when you’all arrive," he continued. "I’ll have 2 more denatl appoint. on April 8th and 9th." [sic]

He tells the employee to "please send Carla and Lonnie & Ron links to the river rafting, zip line, volcano, beach, waterfall tour, etc. Let’s discuss and coordinate with my med. schedule."

The emails provide links to the activities, which included the "La Paz Waterfall Gardens" and "Peace Lodge" for a hiking trip through waterfalls in Costa Rica, and zip lining.

"He used it on everything," the employee said of the grant money. "All of his personal expenses, all of his groceries, gas, a Cadillac."

"We went to Amsterdam, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., all under the ruse that these were business purposes," he said.

"We wound up at this party at the Playboy mansion," the employee said. "One of his friends was throwing a party there, with really expensive tickets."

The employee said he was fired in 2013 out of retaliation for reporting Resnic to the authorities for fraud.

However, Resnic has accused the employee of stealing $257,000 in grant funds, and sued the employee in January. The employee filed a countersuit, alleging that it was Resnic who was fraudulently using the money.

"Resnic squandered those monies on plastic surgeries, lavish vacations, parties at the Playboy Mansion, high-tech electronic equipment, a Cadillac, a Rhode Island condo, stocks, and other personal purchases, treating federal and state grants as though they were his personal slush fund," according to the cross-complaint filed by the employee. He also used the funds to "purchase pornography," according to the lawsuit.

"His employment was a sham intended only to satisfy Resnic’s predatorial sexual appetites," the lawsuit said, which also accuses Resnic of sexual harassment.

Additionally, the employee alleges that Resnic spent grant funds to further his other inventions and ideas, including a reality television show called "Extreme Office Makeover."

A budget to make the pilot episode showed total costs of $46,086.25.

The concepts were described in the lawsuit as "get-rich-quick" schemes, including

a "car trunk organizer," "‘green’ recyclable hangers," an "oxygen canister," "parrot iPhone app," "salad bar lunch container," and "Velcro snow straps."

His other ideas included an Origami "menstrual cup with expandable capacity"; "Rounded Corners," which involved adding a curved wall to a room to make it look bigger; and the "Big Bag Theory," a portable shopping cart.

Resnic was ambitious about his condoms. In September 2011 he wrote a letter to Lady Gaga, asking the pop star to partner with him to promote his brand of condoms.

"Hello, Lady Gaga," the letter began.

"We are aware of the important work that you have championed to promote women’s prevention awareness of the risks of HIV/AIDS. You may count us among your ardent supporters (and fans)," it said. "We would very much like to discuss with you our condom research/development projects and perhaps explore possibilities that may align the ORIGAMI Condoms™ launch in 2014, with your HIV prevention objectives."

The employee also charged that Resnic was unethical in the way he tested his condoms.

"He tried to go outside of the international review board, which has strict guidelines for human studies," the employee said. "He would ask personal friends to try out the condoms and report back, which is against every standard for clinical studies."

Resnic also conducted clinical testing on humans.

After the initial $212,162 grant for a feasibility study in 2006, Resnic applied for more funds to develop the anal condom in January 2009. A grant worth $828,188 was awarded just six months later, more than the $731,199 that Resnic asked for to cover the entire project. He received an additional $302,482 in 2010. The total study cost for the anal condom cost $1,130,670.

The employee said in his lawsuit that he was instructed to "find sexual partners to use the condoms with, and then provide detailed reports about [the employee’s] sexual and intimate experiences to Resnic."

Resnic flew to the Netherlands on Nov. 12, 2011, for a "Female Condom Conference" on the 17-18. He stayed in the Netherlands until Nov. 20.

In a memo to his employees, Resnic sought to gain participation on a panel to gain "recognition as condom experts." "Participation will also facilitate an opportunity to network with global leaders in the fields of Female Condoms, marketing, licensing, etc.," he wrote.

Later he added: "None of their workshop topics are that relatable for us. Let's reconsider the title and content somewhat for a better fit with their workshop topics."

Resnic also purchased a condo in Provincetown, Mass. for $300,000 with grant funds, according to the employee, and spent $163,991.80 on renovations between 2011 and 2012.

The condo is now for sale, with an asking price of $425,000.

"He just used these funds for whatever he wanted," the employee said. "There was no limitation."

Since the employee was fired, the dispute has turned into a he said-he said legal battle. Resnic filed a lawsuit on January 24, alleging that the employee mishandled federal funds, spending $257,000. The employee "harbored a secret intent to use [Resnic’s] resources to enrich himself," according to Resnic’s complaint in the Superior Court of California.

The lawsuit alleged that the employee was in charge of the accounting for Resnic’s company, Strata Various Product Designs, and sabotaged him from receiving any more federal grants that "would have resulted in future economic benefit to" Resnic.

Resnic claims he was prevented from the "ability to obtain any future grants and consummate other economic relationships, including a pending grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation," the lawsuit said.

The employee "stole hundreds of thousands of company dollars, using them to pay his personal bills, pay the expenses of friends and family, and to fund his lavish lifestyle, including paying the rent for his luxury condominium," the suit claims.

Resnic also dismissed the employee’s allegations that Resnic "demanded that [the employee] perform duties that were inappropriate and of a sexual nature."

[The employee] must provide facts establishing, or at the very least, sufficiently alleging why the supposed ‘Sexually Harassing Acts’ were unwelcome," Resnic’s Demurrer to the employee’s cross-complaint said.

"What made them unwelcome? Did Resnic know they were unwelcome? Did [the employee] tell Resnic they were unwelcome? If so, when? How many times?"

Both parties claim their accuser is under investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

When asked whether it is investigating the grants, NIH said that it "does not comment on potential or pending litigation."

Attempts to reach Resnic for comment were not returned.

"My only goal in getting this out is so that this con man cannot scheme any one else out of money," the employee said.

"He’s going to go to every end."