Drexel University has agreed to pay back $189,062 to the U.S. government after it was discovered a former professor used the funds at various Philadelphia-area strip clubs.
The money in question came from eight federal grants that were supposed to be for research related to energy and naval technology, according to a Department of Justice press release.
Authorities said that for 10 years, Dr. Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa, the head of Drexel’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, submitted improper charges against the grants for iTunes purchases and for “goods and services” provided by Cheerleaders, Club Risque, and Tacony Club, all described as “gentlemen’s clubs” in the release.
Nwankpa’s alleged improper charges came to light during a 2017 internal audit. Once confronted, he reportedly admitted to the unauthorized expenses, agreed to pay back $53,328 ― less than a third of the overall total ― and resigned his post, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
A university spokesperson told the paper that officials have cooperated with the investigation. The school has beefed up auditing controls and instituted additional training for faculty and staff.
U.S. Attorney William McSwain called the allegations “an example of flagrant and audacious fraud, and a shameful misuse of public funds.”
He added: “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.”
Nwankpa spent 27 years teaching in Drexel’s electrical and computer engineering department, and was the department chair from 2015 until he resigned, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He was reportedly one of the university’s top attractors of research grant funds, and landed more than $10 million in research money throughout his career, according to his faculty bio.
Although the University settled with the Justice Department on Monday, the settlement did not preclude prosecution of Nwankpa, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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