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

Drexel University professor Chikaodinaka Nwankpa was charged with using the money on "adult entertainment ... and iTunes purchases," officials say.

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By Kalhan Rosenblatt

The former chairman of Drexel University's engineering department was arrested last week and charged with two counts of felony theft, accused of having stolen $185,000 in research grant funds, authorities said.

Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa in a police photo.Philadelphia Police Department

Professor Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, who was arrested Monday, is accused of using the money on "adult entertainment venues and sports bars, meals, and iTunes purchases," according to a statement by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

He is charged with one count each of theft by unlawful taking and theft by deception, both felonies, the statement said.

"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," District Attorney Larry Krasner said in a statement.

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

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More than $96,000 was spent at adult entertainment venues and sports bars, according to the district attorney's office. About $89,000 was spent on iTunes purchases, it said.

"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 reports for the adult entertainment expenses by saying the money had been used for "catering and food." However, 48 percent of the 114 charges he made were incurred on weekends, and 63 percent were incurred from midnight to 2 a.m.

Nwankpa, who surrendered his passport, was released on $25,000 bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 29.