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Ex-FEMA official, contractor accused of hurricane fraud in Puerto Rico



Federal authorities announced Tuesday that two former Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) officials and the former president of the main relief contract in Puerto Rico have been arrested and charged with accepting bribes during restoration work. Donald Ellison, former president of Cobra Acquisitions LLC, has been contracted to support the restoration of electricity on the island, and has exchanged favors and bribes The Deputy Regional Director of FEMA, Ahsha Tribble, endeavors, according to the US law firm in Puerto Rico, the mutual benefits The lawyer Rosa Emilia Rodríguez claims in the indictment that Ellison provided Tribble with personal helicopter use, hotel accommodations, airfare, personal security, and a credit card. In return, Tribble used its authority to pressure PREPA and FEMA officials to complete additional recovery efforts for COBRA and accelerate payments to Ellison's companies.

Cobra was awarded two contracts worth US $ 1

.8 billion, as court records from Sept. 3.

In addition, prosecutors accuse Ellison of having used his clout to Tribbles friend Jovanda Patterson at a Cobra affiliate set. Patterson was accused of being the Deputy Chief of Staff of FEMA in Puerto Rico before resigning in July 2018 to work for Cobra Energy LLC. Cobra Acquisitions and Cobra Energy are subsidiaries of Oklahoma City-based Mammoth Energy Services Inc. Patterson is the third person indicted in the indictment.

The prosecution alleges that Patterson betrayed Cobra by telling them that her salary at FEMA was far higher than it was "These defendants should come to Puerto Rico to help recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane María "Rodríguez said in a statement Benefit from the precarious conditions of our electricity network and engage in a bribery and honest service wire fraud program to illegally enrich yourself. "

All three defendants traveled in October 2017, just a month after the deadly Category 5 hurricane killed nearly 3,000 people and caused the second longest power outage in the world."

"All government officials are entrusted with performing their duties honestly and Ethical: The accused offenses are reprehensible, especially given the financial crisis of PREPA and Puerto Rico. "

FEMA stated in a statement on Tuesday that" they can not comment on personnel matters, but the agency cooperates fully with federal investigators , "

" FEMA's mission is to help the American people before, during, and after disasters, and our mission can only be achieved by maintaining public trust and the trust of those we serve, " said the organization. "As such, the agency takes allegations of employee misconduct very seriously and keeps all employees committed to the highest ethical standards. In everything they do, they must protect state resources and provide public services through private prizes. "

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The three face 15 crimes, including Conspiracy by officials to commit bribery, acts of personal financial interest, false statements, disaster scams, wire fraud and travel law violations, and if convicted they may face up to 5 years in prison for conspiracy, violations of travel laws, conflicts of interest and false Statements and up to 30 years for fraud related to honest services and disaster scams.

to this report.


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