Federal authorities arrested a pair of former top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and a Federal Emergency Management Agency contractor in Puerto Rico on Tuesday in a corruption investigation.
Former deputy regional administrator Ahsha Nateef Tribble; Jovanda Patterson, Tribble’s chief of staff; and Donald Keith Ellison, former President of Cobra Acquisitions, LLC, were arrested on charges including “conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services wire fraud and disaster fraud,” according to CBS News.
The arrests come after two years of Democrats blaming President Donald Trump for criticizing Puerto Rico’s response to Hurricane Maria in 2017 when the storm devastated parts of the U.S. territory.
Trump has spent the same amount of time blaming Puerto Rico for botched emergency responses and the long recovery period.
The president’s longstanding claims, however, have now been at least somewhat justified given the nature of the recent arrests.
BREAKING: The FEMA official in Puerto Rico, in charge of power restoration after Hurricane Maria, has been arrested by the FBI, as has the fmr. CEO of Cobra Energy (which got $1.8B in contracts) & a 2nd FEMA official…all accused of enriching themselves & defrauding the fed govt pic.twitter.com/bhl2a4hi2D
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 10, 2019
Tribble was FEMA’s Region II Deputy Regional Administrator assigned to power recovery in the devastated region, according to official documents posted on Twitter by CBS reporter David Begnaud.
Ellison was president of Cobra Acquisitions, LLC, which CBS reported was “the main contractor for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority” and which “executed two contracts with the agency for a total value of $1.8 billion.”
According to the documents, Patterson resigned from FEMA so that she could work at Cobra Energy, LLC.
The trio allegedly used Tribble’s position and influence to enrich themselves during their deployment to restore Puerto Rico’s power grid after the storm.
That $1.8 billion in contracts was paid to Cobra through the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority using FEMA funds.
As time passed, the allegation states, Ellison tried to influence Tribble with gifts such as “personal helicopter use, hotel accommodations, airfare, personal security services, and the use of a credit card.”