Tuesday, October 8, 2019
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Drexel University to Pay $189,062 to Resolve Potential False Claims Liability:
United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Drexel University has agreed to pay the United States $189,062 to resolve potential liability under the False Claims Act for a former professor’s use of grant funds towards “gentlemen’s clubs” and other improper purchases.
For ten years, the head of Drexel’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dr. Chikaodinaka D. Nwankpa [Google Scholar]), submitted improper charges against federal grants. The majority of the charges were made to gentlemen’s clubs and sports bars in the Philadelphia area.
The government’s investigation began in 2017 after Drexel voluntarily disclosed the improper charges to eight federal grants for energy and naval technology related research that it received from the Department of the Navy, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. After an internal audit in 2017, Drexel discovered that between July 2007 through April 2017, Dr. Nwankpa submitted improper charges against the federal grants for items such as personal iTunes purchases and for “goods and services” provided by Cheerleaders, Club Risque, and Tacony Club.
Drexel disclosed Dr. Nwankpa’s conduct to the government and cooperated with the investigation to identify the full scope of the misconduct. Dr. Nwankpa repaid $53,328 to Drexel, resigned his position in lieu of termination, and was debarred from federal government contracting for a period of six months. Drexel has implemented changes to prevent similar misconduct in the future, such as improvements to its charge approval and auditing policies.