Before the fraud, Tezna lived what appeared to be a quintessential American success story. His family came to the United States from Colombia when he was 13, living in an unfinished basement. As a teenager, he helped his mother build a residential cleaning business while taking English classes through Loudoun County and meeting his future wife. He earned a degree from George Mason University while working full time to pay for his housing and car. He went on to study accounting, and in six years at NASA, he rose to the executive level — a “dream job” that paid $181,000 a year, his attorney Page Pate said in court Thursday.