The Department of Justice announced Monday that Drexel University has agreed to pay back $189,062 in federal grant funding misused by the school’s former head of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
According to officials, the professor allegedly made the “improper purchases” over a span of a decade, and even used the taxpayer dollars to pay for “goods and services” from strip clubs.
What are the details?
According to a press release from the DOJ, Dr. Chikaodinaka Nwankpa “submitted improper charges against federal grants,” and that “the majority of the charges were made to gentleman’s clubs and sports bars in the Philadelphia area.”
Drexel alerted the feds after discovering improper charges made by the professor between 2007 and 2017 in relation to eight research grants from the Department of the Navy, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Nwankpa resigned when the scheme was exposed, and the school has been cooperative with authorities and agreed to pay back the misused funds.
“This is an example of flagrant and audacious fraud, and a shameful misuse of public funds,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement. “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.”
McSwain added, “We appreciate Drexel’s self-disclosure and cooperation in this matter. At the same time, we are disappointed that Dr. Nwankpa’s conduct went unnoticed for so long, but Drexel’s strengthening of its charge approval process is certainly a step in the right direction.”
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dr. Nwankpa confessed to making the unauthorized expenditures, “and agreed to pay back $53,328 — less than a third of the overall bill he ran up.” A spokesperson for McSwain’s office told the newspaper that Drexel’s settlement does not mean the matter is closed for Nwankpa, and the former professor could still face prosecution.
The Daily Caller noted that when Drexel announced Dr. Nwankpa’s promotion to department head in 2015, the notice “lauded Nwankpa’s fundraising ability, highlighting that he has received over $10 million in grants.”