Sep 10, 2019 - Science

Ex-FEMA official arrested for allegedly accepting bribes after Hurricane Maria

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Photo: Juan C. Cruz/EyeEm/Getty Images

A former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official was arrested Tuesday after an investigation found she accepted bribes from the head of a company that won $1.8 billion in federal contracts for Hurricane Maria recovery, the New York Times reports.

What we know: Ahsha Tribble was a deputy administrator and oversaw the region that includes Puerto Rico. Reports indicate she took bribes from Donald Keith Ellison, the former president of Cobra Acquisitions. Prosecutors allege the 2 had a "close personal relationship," with Ellison gifting Tribble a helicopter tour, plane tickets, expense-free hotel accommodations and more in exchange for Tribble influencing FEMA projects to Cobra's benefit.

  • A second FEMA official, Jovanda Patterson, who worked for Tribble and later for Cobra, was also arrested, per the U.S. attorney for Puerto Rico.
  • Following a Feb. 2018 explosion at a transmission center, Tribble urged Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority to use Cobra services — "even though leaders of the utility insisted they could do the same work at a far lower cost," per the Times.

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