FEMA official arrested on bribery, fraud charges from power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico

FEMA official arrested on bribery, fraud charges from power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico
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A former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official was reportedly arrested on Tuesday, charged with taking bribes from a company responsible for restoring power in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Federal officials arrested former Deputy Administrator Ahsha Tribble, who oversaw the FEMA region including Puerto Rico, and the former president of Cobra Acquisitions, Donald K. Ellison, accusing them of conspiring to defraud the federal government, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

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“They took advantage of one of the most vulnerable moments in the history of Puerto Rico to enrich themselves,” the U.S. attorney for Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, told The New York Times.

Ellison would allegedly reward Tribble with gifts such as a helicopter tour over Puerto Rico, plane tickets and hotel stays. In exchange, the FEMA official would advocate to Cobra's advantage during the recovery efforts.

Tribble once mandated that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) hire Cobra Acquisitions to attend to the damage from an explosion at a transmission center in order to receive FEMA funding for the project, the Times reported.

Federal contracts provided Cobra with $1.8 billion to restore power in the country.

Eleven months after Maria's destruction, PREPA announced that electricity had been restored to most of the country.

Tribble's deputy chief of staff, Jovanda R. Patterson, was also arrested.