U.S. charges FEMA official in Puerto Rico for taking bribes after Hurricane Maria

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday introduced corruption charges in opposition to a senior authorities official and a contractor who oversaw the rebuilding of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017.

In a 15-count indictment, U.S. prosecutors allege that Ahsha Tribble, who oversaw the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s efforts to revive electrical energy after the hurricane, accepted helicopter rides, resort rooms and different bribes from Donald Ellison, who was then president of Cobra Acquisitions LLC, which was contracted to do the work.

In return, Tribble pressured FEMA and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to steer work to Ellison’s agency, prosecutors mentioned. PREPA mentioned that Cobra was paid $1.1 billion of a contracted $1.9 billion. The contracts had been canceled by the utility in March when it “became aware of possible irregularities,” PREPA mentioned in a press release on Tuesday.

Tribble was not instantly reachable for remark.

Ellison, who left Cobra in June, denies wrongdoing and can plead not responsible, his legal professional William Leone mentioned in a phone interview. “This indictment is full of allegations of innocuous occasions that by some means the federal government has cobbled right into a principle of bribery,” he said. “It’s not against the law to be pals with individuals you’re employed with.”

Prosecutors additionally charged Jovanda Patterson, a former FEMA deputy chief of workers, who they are saying evaluated Cobra’s work at the same time as she was making an attempt to get a job with the corporate.

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