Former Drexel professor used $185K in research grants on strip clubs, iTunes, officials say

Police: Former professor used $185K in research grants on strip clubs, iTunes

PHILADELPHIA — The former head of Drexel University’s electrical and computer engineering department is accused of spending $185,000 in research grants at strip clubs, sports bars and for iTunes purchases, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

In a news release, District Attorney Larry Krasner said Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, 57, was arrested Jan. 13 by university police and charged with theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception. He was released after posting $25,000 bail and surrendering his passport, according to the statement.

According to authorities, between 2010 and 2017, Nwankpa spent funds allocated for science, energy and naval research on activities unrelated to academics, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

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“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,” Krasner said in the news release.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Nwankpa spent more than $96,000 on area strip clubs and sports bars and $89,000 on food and iTunes purchases.

“Nwankpa attempted to hide adult entertainment expenses by claiming that the items were for catering and food, despite the fact that 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.,” the statement said.

Nwankpa’s arrest comes after Drexel officials agreed in October to pay the Justice Department $189,062 to settle allegations under the False Claims Act, The Washington Post reported. The repayment prevented a lawsuit from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, the Inquirer reported.

Before he resigned in June 2017, Nwankpa spent 27 years teaching in Drexel’s electrical and computer engineering department, chairing it from 2015 until he left the school, the Inquirer reported.

Nwankpa repaid the university $53,328, the Post reported. He has been working as an engineering consultant since June 2017, according to his LinkedIn account.

A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 29, the District Attorney’s Office said. If convicted on both charges, Nwankpa could face up to 14 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines.

Chikaodinaka Nwankpa is accused of using research grants for personal use.
Chikaodinaka Nwankpa is accused of using research grants for personal use. (Philadelphia Police Department)