Ex-FEMA Official Arrested for Allegedly Taking Bribes During Hurricane Maria Recovery
A former FEMA administrator was arrested after an investigation found that she took bribes from the president of a company that obtained $1.8 billion in federal contracts to fix Puerto Rico’s electric grid after Hurricane Maria, The New York Times reports. Ahsha Tribble, the agency’s ex-deputy administrator for an area that includes Puerto Rico, and Cobra Acquisitions’ former president Keith Ellison were both arrested for allegedly conspiring to defraud the government, among other charges. U.S. Attorney for Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez, said Tribble and Ellison had a “close personal relationship,” with Ellison giving Tribble gifts—including a helicopter tour over Puerto Rico, plane tickets, hotel stays, and an apartment in New York. Tribble is accused of using her official capacity to act in Cobra Acquisitions’ interests in exchange for the gifts, including insisting that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority hire the company to make repairs or risk not getting FEMA reimbursement.
FEMA’s ex-deputy chief of staff in Puerto Rico, Jovanda Patterson, was also arrested in the scheme. She was later hired by Cobra Acquisitions.