He was supposed to use the federal grants for research on energy and naval technology. Instead, the Justice Department says, a former Drexel University professor used $189,062 from eight grants at strip clubs and sports bars. The Philadelphia university in 2017 voluntarily reported fraudulent charges to the grants from the Navy, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, leading to the DoJ's investigation. Dr. Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa, who had been with the school since 1990, was placed on administrative leave during the probe and ultimately resigned and was prohibited from federal contracting for six months; he has not been charged with a crime, but the university has agreed to pay the money back and Nwankpa has reimbursed the university $53,328, USA Today reports.
"This is an example of flagrant and audacious fraud, and a shameful misuse of public funds," said US Attorney William M. McSwain of the spending, which authorities say took place between July 2007 and April 2017. "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 also allegedly spent some of the money on iTunes purchases. Drexel says it is now improving its auditing controls and training staff to recognize other such circumstances, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Nwankpa, 56, had in 2015 been named head of the university's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. (Read more Drexel University stories.)