This professor was focused on research that his federal grants didn't cover, prosecutors say, and his former employer is now picking up the tab.
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Drexel University was ordered to pay $189,062 after learning a former professor had spent grant money on strippers and iTunes purchases over the course of a decade, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia said.
Dr. Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa, who headed the university’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in tabs at Philadelphia sports bars and gentlemen’s clubs with grant funds from 2007 to 2017, according to a statement this week from the Department of Justice and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Drexel settled with the government on Monday, officials said.
The money was meant to go toward naval technology and energy-related research, and was administered by the Navy, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy. Nwankpa's spending encompassed trips to businesses including Club Risque, Cheerleaders and Tacony Club, according to the statement.
“This is an example of flagrant and audacious fraud, and a shameful misuse of public funds,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain. “The agencies providing these grant funds expect them to be used towards advancements in energy and naval technology for public benefit, not for personal entertainment.”
The university discovered the abuse following a 2017 internal audit and subsequently notified authorities.
Nwankpa was immediately placed on administrative leave so officials could conduct an internal investigation, a spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement.
“Drexel takes allegations of unethical or unlawful business conduct on the part of any members of the university community very seriously and remains committed to being in full compliance with all billing regulations and requirements,” the university said. “Drexel has developed additional internal and external auditing controls and procedures to prevent future occurrences of this kind.”
Nwankpa has repaid Drexel $53,328 and resigned his post, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.