FEMA officials, contractor accused of hurricane relief fraud

Cutout Photo: Arturo de La Barrera / CC BY-SA 2.0 Photo: Shaquille Brewster / Twitter
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By: Associated Press
September 10, 2019

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Federal authorities have arrested former officials of the Federal Emergency Management Authority and the former president of a major disaster relief contractor, accusing them of bribery and fraud as the U.S. territory struggled to recover from Hurricane Maria.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Puerto Rico says Cobra Acquisitions then-President Donald Keith Ellison gave FEMA's deputy regional director use of a helicopter, hotel accommodations, airfare, personal security services and the use of a credit card.

It says that in exchange, Ahsha Nateef Tribble exerted pressure on FEMA and local power utility officials to award contracts to Cobra.

Tribble was FEMA's primary leader in trying to restore electric power to the island, while Cobra was given contracts worth about $1.8 billion. The grand jury indictment was returned on Tuesday.

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