Former FEMA employees indicted for conspiracy to commit bribery, other charges

Two top FEMA officials and a contractor have been charged with using the 2017 hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico to enrich themselves through bribery, gifts and favors by steering work to the contractor on the island.

According to the Department of Justice, Ahsha Nateef Tribble, a FEMA deputy regional administrator who'd been sent to the island to lead power recovery efforts; Jovanda R. Patterson, a FEMA deputy chief of staff also assigned to the island; and Donald Keith Ellison, president of Cobra Acquisitions, LLC, have all been charged with 15 counts related to the scheme.

“Ellison provided Tribble with personal helicopter use, hotel accommodations, airfare, personal security services, and the use of a credit card,” according to a DOJ press release. “As part of Ellison’s pattern of providing things of value to Tribble, he also secured employment within COBRA’s affiliated companies for her friend, defendant Patterson. In exchange, Tribble performed official acts, including influencing, advising, and exerting pressure on PREPA and FEMA officials, in order to award restoration work to COBRA and accelerate payments to COBRA,” the statement continued. 

Tribble awarded nearly $2 billion in contracts to Ellison’s company in return for the perks.

Charges include conspiracy to commit bribery of public officials, acts affecting a personal financial interest, making false statements; disaster fraud, honest services wire fraud, Travel Act violations, and wire fraud.

“These defendants were supposed to come to Puerto Rico to help during the recovery after the devastation suffered from Hurricane María. Instead, they decided to take advantage of the precarious conditions of our electric power grid and engaged in a bribery and honest services wire fraud scheme in order to enrich themselves illegally,” said U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. “All government officials are entrusted with performing their duties honestly and ethically. The charged offenses are reprehensible, more so in light of PREPA’s and Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis,” she added.

If found guilty, the defendants  could face possible sentences of up to five to 30 years.

DOJ also noted that the charges in the indictment are “merely accusations.”


Reader comments

Wed, Sep 18, 2019

At the big outfit in Bethesda, dishonest corrupt individuals are collectively known as management. The only way into the elite school of inept, self-serving, back stabbing management is to be totally corrupt and lack any sort of ethical standing. It also helps not to have a functional backbone, make gender and age related adverse personnel practices a policy in which they can operate and feel good about the criminal acts they perpetuate.

Tue, Sep 17, 2019

Time for very severe punishment in the form this persuades other potential crooks to see what the consequences will be for corrupt behavior.

Fri, Sep 13, 2019

99.9% of government workers are honest hard working citizens trying to do the best job possible during the inept management of civil service by political minions and idiot management. The no fear act and others are just plain jokes because the corruption is festered mainly in the management ranks (not entirely though) and management keeps covering up their tracks and their friends as well.

Thu, Sep 12, 2019

30 years prison sentence is to little for such crimes. How about cleaning up toxic waste sites with a shovel and bucket.

Thu, Sep 12, 2019

Time to hang these morons so other potential crooks would find out such actions are stupid to begin with. However they will get their hands slapped and continue with business as usual. If one thinks the judicial system works in such cases, they are absolutely and totally incorrect.

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