Former Drexel Engineering Professor Arrested for Stealing $185k in Grants, Spending it at Strip Clubs

Chikaodinaka Nwankpa's spending was first discovered by a Drexel audit.

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The former head of Drexel University's Electrical and Chemical Engineering Department has been arrested and charged with theft for stealing $185,000 in research grant money and spending it at strip clubs, at sports bars and on iTunes.

Chikaodinaka Nwankpa's spending was first discovered by a Drexel audit in October. Drexel reported it to the agencies that had given the grants, including the Department of the Navy, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

A mugshot of Chikaodinaka Nwankpa.

"Mr. Nwankpa inappropriately and criminally diverted tens of thousands of dollars that were allocated for research purposes toward his own private enjoyment. He betrayed Drexel University and tuition-paying students he was paid to educate," District Attorney Larry Krasner said Tuesday.


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More than $96,000 of Nwankpa's unauthorized spending was at at Philadelphia adult entertainment venues and sports bars, including Cheerleaders, Club Risque and Tacony Club, the audit found. Nwankpa made multiple “no receipt” purchases between 2010 and 2017 and tried to get reimbursement, according to the audit.

Nwankpa attempted to hide adult entertainment expenses by claiming that the items were for catering and food, despite the fact that almost half of the 114 separate charges he made were done on weekends, and more than half were processed between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m., Krasner's office said.

Drexel University has already paid a $190,000 settlement after a federal investigation. Nwankpa was arrested by Drexel University Police Tuesday; he was released on $25,000 bail. He had to surrender his passport.

Nwankpa has repaid $53,328 to the university, resigned in lieu of termination and was debarred from federal government contracting for six months, according to officials.

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