Ahsha Tribble FEMA exec busted on corruption & bribery charges after awarding Cobra Acquisitions $1.8B in Puerto Rico restorations contracts following Hurricane Maria.
A former top official in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly taking bribes from the head of a company who received $1.8 billion in federal contracts to repair Puerto Rico’s power grid after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.
Ahsha Tribble, a deputy regional administrator, another former FEMA official, Jovanda Patterson, and Donald Keith Ellison, the former president of Cobra Acquisitions, the outlet accused of receiving the lion’s share of contracts – were indicted in the corruption investigation.
NBC reports Cobra Acquisitions – an Oklahoma based energy company – operating in Puerto Rico as the main contractor for the island’s power authority as it sought to restore and rebuild the electrical grid destroyed by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
‘These defendants were supposed to come to Puerto Rico to help during the recovery after the devastation suffered from Hurricane Maria.
‘Instead, they decided to take advantage of the precarious conditions of our electric power grid and engaged in a bribery and honest services wire fraud scheme in order to enrich themselves illegally,” Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez , the US attorney in Puerto Rico, said in a statement .
The three people arrested are former FEMA deputy regional administrator Ahsha Tribble, former FEMA staff assistant Jovanda Patterson and Donald Keith Ellison, former president of COBRA Acquisition, an Oklahoma-based energy company operating in Puerto Rico https://t.co/PlQoooIUkX
— LiA (@LibsInAmerica) September 10, 2019
Tainted ‘close personal relationship’:
Tribble and Ellison had a ‘close personal relationship’ from October 2017 to April 2019, with the Cobra Acquisitions executive allegedly giving Tribble gifts that ranged from personal helicopter use, hotel accommodations and personal security services, according to the DOJ statement.
In exchange, Tribble performed ‘official acts’ including influencing, advising, and exerting pressure on Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and FEMA officials, in order to award restoration work to Cobra and accelerate payments to the company according to a filed indictment last week.
‘All government officials are entrusted with performing their duties honestly and ethically,’ said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez for the District of Puerto Rico. ‘The charged offenses are reprehensible, more so in light of PREPA’s and Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis.’
Responded FEMA following the arrests: ‘FEMA’s mission is to help the American people before, during, and after disasters and our mission can only be accomplished by maintaining the public trust and confidence of those we serve. As such, the Agency takes allegations of employee misconduct extremely seriously and holds all employees to the highest ethical standards – requiring them to protect government resources and place public service over private gain in everything they do.’
Tribble is now on unpaid leave from the agency as authorities investigate.