An official from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) was apprehended because of fraudulence and bribery on Tuesday. The allegation happened during the relief efforts of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
The arrested, Ahsha Nateef Tribble, is a deputy administrator for Region II under FEMA and is also regarded as a top official. The Department of Justice stated that Tribble allegedly received a bribe from the Oklahoma-based company, Cobra, which is responsible for bringing back electricity to the affected areas.
The illegal incentives that Tribble had access to include the use of credit card, helicopter access, and personal security. The Department of Justice stated that Tribble used her position to help the energy company to get the contract to recover Puerto Rico’s energy grid.
In exchange of what the deputy regional administrator did, she received all these perks as part of the bribery. In addition, Jovanda Patterson which was a former staff of Tribble secured a job at Cobra. It is believed that it is also a part of the bribery, hence, Patterson was also indicted.
The two contracts that the energy company won is worth 1.8 billion and was paid by FEMA’s federal funds. Tribble also forced FEMA and PREPA to give the contract to Cobra, at the same time she also put pressure on them to give the payments as soon as possible to the company.
After the investigation started last May, Tribble was put on leave without salary. All the accused will be jailed up to five years and will face the investigation for falsification of statements, bribery, and conspiracy. Add to that, they can also face up to thirty years in prison for “disaster fraud”.
In a DOJ press release, U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez stated that the people involved took advantage of the situation of Puerto Rico’s electric power guild problems, in order to enrich themselves in an illegal way.