Release: District Attorney’s Office Charges Former Drexel Professor With Stealing More than $185,000 in Grant Funds

Philadelphia DAO
Jan 14 · 2 min read

CONTACT:
Jane Roh, District Attorney’s Office, 215–686–8711, Jane.Roh@phila.gov

PHILADELPHIA (January 14, 2020) — District Attorney Larry Krasner announced the arrest and charging of Chikaodinaka Nwankpa (DOB: 12/13/1962) with Theft by Unlawful Taking (F3) and Theft by Deception (F3) for stealing $185,000 in research grant funds.

Nwankpa, the former Chair of Drexel University’s Engineering Department, spent funds that were allocated for research on activities that were not related to academic research, including on visits to area adult entertainment venues and sports bars, meals, and iTunes purchases.

“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 Krasner 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. I’d like to thank Drexel University and the Drexel University Police Department for their work throughout this investigation.”

A Drexel University audit found that Nwankpa made multiple, unauthorized, and “no receipt” purchases between 2010 and 2017, for which he attempted to secure reimbursement using research grant funds. He made more than $96,000 in purchases at adult entertainment venues and sports bars, and more than $89,000 on purchases toward iTunes, meals, and other unauthorized purchases. Nwankpa attempted to hide adult entertainment expenses by claiming that the items were for catering and food, despite the fact that 48% of the 114 separate charges he made were done on weekends, and 63% were processed between the hours of midnight and 2:00 a.m.

After a separate federal investigation, Drexel University paid a $190,000 settlement. Nwankpa was arrested by Drexel University Police yesterday and released after making payment on $25,000 bail set by a judge and surrendering his passport. A preliminary hearing for his case is scheduled on January 29, 2020, in Courtroom 903 of the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice.

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The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecution of over 40,000 criminal cases annually.

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