At one point, Chikaodinaka Nwankpa was the head of the electrical engineering department at Drexel. Now the Philadelphia District Attorney's office says he was charged with felony counts of unlawful taking and theft by deception for abusing federal grant money.
Prosecutors tell the New York Post that Nwankpa stole grants from the Navy, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation for over a 10-year period. Of this money, he spent close to $96,000 in federal funds at adult entertainment venues and sports bars between the years of 2010 and 2017. Another $89,000 was blown on iTunes purchases and food.
"Mr. Nwankpa inappropriately and criminally diverted tens of thousands of dollars that were allocated for research purposes toward his own private enjoyment," District Attorney Larry Krasner said to CNN. "He betrayed Drexel University and tuition-paying students he was paid to educate."
Drexel discovered Nwankpa's fraud in October 2019 after conducting a 2017 audit. When confronted by the school, Nwankpa reportedly admitted to spending the money. He was arrested last week by university police and released on a $25,000 bail. Nwankpa was placed on administrative leave when the investigation started before resigning. If he's found guilty of these charges, Nwankpa could serve 14 years behind bars.
Along with this criminal punishment, the professor also paid $53,328 to Drexel in October. This was used to help the school pay off a $190,000 settlement following a different federal investigation into his unauthorized expenses.
"Drexel takes allegations of unethical or unlawful business conduct on the part of any members of the University community very seriously," Drexel spokeswoman Niki Gianakaris explained. "The University initially reported this situation to the US Attorney's Office and has worked cooperatively with federal and state investigations into the matter."