A FORMER university professor has been charged with theft after he allegedly squandered tens of thousands of dollars of research money on strippers and his own extracurricular activities.
Dr. Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, who headed Drexel University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Philadelphia, spent $96,000 in federal grants at adult entertainment clubs and sports bars between 2010 and 2017, prosecutors said.
Nwankpa headed Drexel University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Philadelphia[/caption]
Nwankpa, 57, also allegedly squandered $89,000 on the likes of iTunes purchases and meals.
The funding the professor had secured was supposed to be spent on science, energy and naval research.
According to reports, when Nwankpa submitted his receipts, he would abbreviate them with “MAG” – which the department assumed were for work-related dinners.
Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Dawn Holtz said: “The people at Drexel that were getting the invoices thought that was the restaurant Maggiano’s, so they were approving these bills.”
However, around half of the purchases were made on weekends, and more than 60 percent were processed between midnight and 2 a.m.
Holtz added: “It’s a really terrible thing that he did.
“Stealing grants that are so hard to get and so hard to fight for to help do research that’s going to help people.”
An internal audit by the university in 2017 found that Nwankpa had made many unauthorized or “no receipt” purchases, which he then sought to reimburse through grant money, according to officials.
Nwankpa was immediately placed on administrative leave so officials could investigate.
Last October, Drexel University announced it would pay a $189,000 settlement following a separate federal investigation, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
Nwankpa repaid $53,328 to Drexel and resigned his position in October, the DOJ added.
Before his resignation, the professor had spent 27 years at Drexel.
The university said: “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.
“Drexel has developed additional internal and external auditing controls and procedures to prevent future occurrences of this kind.”
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University police arrested Nwankpa on Monday, but he was released after posting $25,000 bail and surrendering his passport.
He was charged with theft by unlawful take and theft by deception and could face 14 years in prison and a $300,000 fine.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 29.