UPDATE: More details on ex-FEMA officials, contractor accused of fraud in Puerto Rico hurricane relief efforts
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Federal authorities announced Tuesday that two former officials from the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA), as well as the former president of the main relief contracting agency in Puerto Rico, have been arrested and indicted on charges of taking bribes during restoration efforts after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.
Former president of Cobra Acquisitions LLC, Donald Ellison, whose company, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), was contracted to help restore electricity on the island, allegedly exchanged favors and bribes with FEMA’s deputy regional director Ahsha Tribble in an attempt to bolster each other’s benefits from recovery efforts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico.
The article goes on to state the following:
All three defendants went to Puerto Rico in Oct. 2017, just one month after the deadly Category 5 hurricane killed nearly 3,000 people and caused the world’s second-longest blackout.
“All government officials are entrusted with performing their duties honestly and ethically. The charged offenses are reprehensible, more so in light of PREPA’s and Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis,” Rodríguez said.
Prosecutors allege that Ellison used his clout to hire Jovanda Patterson, Tribble’s friend, at one of Cobra’s affiliated companies. Two contracts, worth about $1.8 billion combined, were awarded to Cobra, court documents say.
Prosecutors say Patterson defrauded Cobra by misrepresenting her salary from FEMA, enabling her recieve a $160,000 a year salary at Cobra.
In a statement released Tuesday, FEMA said they “cannot comment on personnel matters; however, the Agency is fully cooperating with federal investigators.”
“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,” FEME said. “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 was FEMA’s primary leader in trying to restore electric power after Hurricane Maria destroyed the power grid in 2017. Cobra was given contracts worth about $1.8 billion.https://t.co/XrBVpeaQlZ
— FOX 42 KPTM (@FOX42KPTM) September 10, 2019
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 10, 2019
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