A former Drexel University professor was arrested and charged with two counts of felony grand theft after he allegedly spent $185,000 in research grant funds on things like strip clubs, bars, meals and iTunes.
Professor Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, 57, worked as the former chairman of Drexel University's engineering department, was arrested on Jan 13 and charged with one count each of theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception, a statement from the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said.
"Mr. Nwankpa inappropriately and criminally diverted tens of thousands of dollars that were allocated for research purposes toward his own private enjoyment. He betrayed Drexel University and tuition-paying students he was paid to educate,” District Attorney Krasner said. “After a comprehensive investigation by our office’s Economic Crimes Unit, Mr. Nwankpa will have his day in court and will have to answer for his crimes."
The purchases were discovered after a Drexel University audit found that Nwankpa made multiple, unauthorized, and “no receipt” purchases between 2010 and 2017, which he then submitted for reimbursement using grant funds the statement says. Nwankpa was placed on administrative leave after an investigation began and then later resigned.
At least $96,000 was spent at "adult entertainment venues and sports bars" and another $89,000 on other purchases, including iTunes, meals and other types of "unauthorized purchases."
Nwankpa attempted to hide his alleged misdeeds by classifying the adult entertainment expenses as spending on catering and food. According to the statement, 48% of the 114 separate charges he made were done on weekends, and 63% were processed between the hours of midnight and 2:00 a.m.
Drexel University paid a separate $190,000 settlement into the former professor's alleged misuse of grant funds, according to the release. The professor repaid $53,328 to the university in October.
Nwankpa was arrested by Drexel University Police on Jan 13 and released after posting a $25,000 bail set by a judge and surrendering his passport. A preliminary hearing for his case is scheduled on January 29, 2020.
Photo: Philadelphia Police Department