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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Federal authorities said Tuesday they have arrested two former officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the former president of a major disaster relief contractor, accusing them of bribery and fraud in the efforts to restore electricity to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico said that the then-president of Cobra Acquisitions LLC, Donald Keith Ellison, gave FEMA’s deputy regional director airline flights, hotel accommodations, personal security services and the use of a credit card.
Return - Ahsha - Nateef - Tribble - Opportunity
In return, Ahsha Nateef Tribble (pictured) “used any opportunity she had to benefit Cobra,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez, including accelerating payments to the company and pressuring local power authority officials to award it contracts.
Ellison also gave a job to a friend of Tribble, Jovanda R. Patterson, who had been FEMA deputy chief of staff in Puerto Rico before resigning in July 2018 to work for Cobra Energy LLC, according to the indictment. Cobra Acquisitions and Cobra Energy are subsidiaries of Oklahoma City-based Mammoth Energy Services Inc.
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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.
Authorities said Tribble was arrested Monday in Florida while Ellison was detained in Oklahoma. Ellison made an appearance in Oklahoma City on Tuesday before a federal magistrate, who released him on a $500,000 unsecured bond and ordered him to report to Puerto Rico by Sept. 24, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Troester said. Ellison did not enter a plea to the charges, Troester said.
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Ellison’s attorney, Bill Leone, said the government is trying to criminalize a friendship between Ellison and Tribble when there was nothing wrong with their relationship.
“He has done nothing wrong,” Leone said of Ellison. “There’s just...
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