CHIKAODINAKA Nwankpa, a former Drexel University professor and of Nigerian origin blew nearly $200,000 of federal grant money in strip clubs and on other ‘improper purchases’, United States Department of Justice revealed Monday.
For more than a decade, Nwankpa aged 56, reportedly misappropriated funds issued by the Navy, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, to pay off hefty tabs at ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ and sports bars in the Philadelphia area while he worked as head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The University discovered the alleged fraud in 2017 during an internal audit and blew the whistle on the improper charges to eight federal grants.
“This is an example of flagrant and audacious fraud and a shameful misuse of public funds. The agencies providing these grants expect them to be used towards advancements in energy and naval technology for public benefit, not for personal entertainment,” said US Attorney William McSwain.
When investigators opened their probe later the same year, they’re said to have found that Nwankpa had been less than subtle about his extracurricular escapades and had other charges made against his federal grants billed at strip clubs, Cheerleaders, and the Tacony Club, spanning from 2007 until 2017.
Findings also revealed he had been misspending government-issued funds in sports bars and on iTunes.
In total, Nwankpa was found to have misspent a total of $189,062, which had been intended for energy, science, and naval research.
The culprit admitted to making unauthorized expenses and resigned from his post when confronted by officials and have agreed to pay back $53,328 — less than a third of the overall sum he had squandered.
Drexel has agreed to pay $189,000 to resolve its potential civil liability in the case. The university said it fully cooperated with the government investigation and since then it has improved its auditing controls.
“Drexel takes allegations of unethical or unlawful business conduct on the part of many members of the university community very seriously and remains committed to being in full compliance with all billing regulations and requirements,” the statement reads.
McSwain praised the university for reporting the matter but expressed disappointment that the professor’s misconduct ‘went unnoticed for so long.’
Nwankpa who worked for 27 years before his resignation has been barred from federal contracting for six months, persecutors say, but he has not been charged with a crime.
He was considered among the university’s top contractors of research grant funds, boasting in his faculty bio that he landed more than $10 million in research money across his career.
An online profile for Nwankpa says he is now self-employed as an engineering consultant.