October 8, 2019
Steve Almasy and Chuck Johnston
(CNN) – A former Drexel University professor used almost $190,000 in federal grants at gentlemen’s clubs and toward other improper purchases, according to a news release Tuesday from the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Drexel, in Philadelphia, has agreed to pay the amount to resolve potential false claims liability, according to the US Attorney’s Office.
Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa made improper charges for items such as “personal iTunes purchases and for ‘goods and services’ provided by Cheerleaders, Club Risque and Tacony Club.”
The purchases totaling $189,062 were made between July 2007 and April 2017, prosecutors said.
“This is an example of flagrant and audacious fraud, and a shameful misuse of public funds,” US Attorney William McSwain said. “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.”
CNN’s calls to Nwankpa, who has not been charged with a crime, were not immediately returned.
The school said the issues were revealed during an internal audit that included its computing and electrical engineering college.
“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,” school officials said.
Nwankpa was placed on administrative leave after an investigation began and then resigned.
He repaid $53,328 to Drexel, according to prosecutors.
The money came from federal research grants.
Drexel said it has added auditing procedures to prevent future misuse of funds.