Former Trump Administration FEMA Official Accused of Taking Bribes in 2018

MIAMI — A former top administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was arrested on Tuesday in a major federal corruption investigation that found that the official took bribes from the president of a company that secured $1.8 billion in federal contracts to repair Puerto Rico’s shredded electrical grid after Hurricane Maria.

Federal authorities arrested Ahsha Tribble, FEMA’s former deputy administrator for the region that includes Puerto Rico, and Donald Keith Ellison, the former president of Cobra Acquisitions with whom Ms. Tribble had a “close personal relationship,” Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez, the United States attorney for Puerto Rico, announced. They were accused of conspiring to defraud the federal government, among other charges.

A second FEMA employee, Jovanda R. Patterson, who worked as a deputy chief of staff in Puerto Rico and was later hired by Cobra, was also arrested, Ms. Rodríguez Vélez said.

President Trump has repeatedly cast Puerto Rico’s leaders as incompetent and corrupt. Tuesday’s arrests, however, did not involve any Puerto Ricans, but rather a longtime federal employee working on the island under the Trump administration.


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