A former Drexel University professor has been charged with stealing $185,000 in grant money and making it rain at area strip clubs.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said in a public statement that Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, 57, is currently facing two felonies, theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception. It is alleged that the professor stole research grant money and used it for purchases at adult clubs, restaurants, iTunes and other places. Many of the alleged purchases occurred between midnight and 2 a.m., the district attorney’s office said.
The Philadelphia District Attorney further detailed that Nwankpa spent over $96,000 on local Philadelphia strip clubs and sports bars and $89,000 on food and iTunes purchases.
“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 Larry Krasner told CNN.
The purchases were made over a seven-year timeframe, from 2010 to 2017, and were discovered during an audit. The district attorney’s office noted that Nwankpa told officials that the strip club expenses were to cover food catering.
Niki Gianakaris, a Drexel spokeswoman, told CNN: “Drexel takes allegations of unethical or unlawful business conduct on the part of any members of the University community very seriously. The University initially reported this situation to the US Attorney’s Office and has worked cooperatively with federal and state investigations into the matter.”
Nwankpa, who formerly headed up Drexel’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, was placed on administrative leave once the purchases were discovered. He later resigned.
According to CNN, Drexel University had previously paid $190,000 in a settlement from another federal investigation into Nwankpa’s alleged misuse of grant funds. In that matter, Nwankpa repaid $53,328 to Drexel.
After Nwankpa was arrested by university police, he was released on a $25,000 bail. He also turned in his passport and is due back in court on January 29 for a preliminary hearing.