Dr. Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa, the head of Drexel’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was accused of submitting improper charges against federal grants.
NBC reports that the investigation began in 2017, after Drexel voluntarily disclosed improper charges to eight grants for energy and navy tech-related research. The grants were given to Drexel by the National Science Foundation, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of Energy.
As the investigation began as an internal audit, it was discovered that Nwankpa used money from the federal grants to make “goods and services” purchases. Among the items listed as “goods and services” included personal iTunes purchases and visits to Club Risque, Tacony Club and Cheerleaders.
Drexel did cooperate with the federal investigation.
As a response to this incident, Drexel changed its grant system to prevent any future misconduct. They also added charge approval and auditing policies to their grants. Drexel also paid the United States government $189,062 for liability as a result of the False Claims Act, NBC reported.
It was reported that Nwankpa did pay back the university for the $53,328 he spent, and resigned before he was terminated. He was subsequently excluded from federal government contracting for six months.
United States Attorney William McSwain told outlets that, “This is an example of flagrant and audacious fraud and a shameful misuse of public funds.”
McSwain continued, “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.”
Additionally, McSwain added that “At the same time, we are disappointed that Dr. Nwankpa’s conduct went unnoticed for so long, but Drexel’s strengthening of its charge approval process is certainly a step in the right direction.”