Philadelphia professor accused of spending $185,000 in grant funds on strip clubs, iTunes

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(nbcnews) – The former chair of Drexel University’s engineering department was arrested on Monday and charged with two counts of felony theft for allegedly stealing $185,000 in research grant funds, according to a release by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

Professor Chikaodinaka Nwankpa is accused of using the money on “adult entertainment venues and sports bars, meals, and iTunes purchases,” according to the release.

He has been charged with one count of theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception, both felonies, the release states.

“After a comprehensive investigation by our office’s Economic Crimes Unit, Mr. Nwankpa will have his day in court and will have to answer for his crimes. I’d like to thank Drexel University and the Drexel University Police Department for their work throughout this investigation,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement.

The alleged purchases, which were discovered after a university audit, were made between 2010 and 2017. Nwankpa made multiple unauthorized and “no receipt” purchases, which he submitted for reimbursement using grant funds, according to the release.

More than $96,000 were spent at adult entertainment venues and sports bars, according to the DA’s office. Another approximately $89,000 were spent on iTunes purchases, the release states.

“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,” Krasner said.

Nwankpa submitted the expense reports for the adult entertainment expenses by saying the money was used for “catering and food.” However, 48 percent of the 114 separate charges he made were done on weekends, and 63 percent were made between the hours of midnight and 2 a.m.

Nwankpa was taken into custody but released after paying his $25,000 bail and surrendering his passport. A preliminary hearing for his case is scheduled on January 29, 2020.

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