Former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official, Ahsha Nateef Tribble, and former Cobra Acquisitions president Donald Keith Ellison will face trial on January 19, 2021, for charges related to the alleged fraud with the funds for disaster recovery in Puerto Rico.
Jovanda R. Patterson, then deputy head of FEMA staff, who later got a job at Cobra Acquisitions is accused.
The federal judge, Francisco Besosa, decided today, Thursday, the date of the judicial process. In addition, he gave Ellison’s lawyer, William J. Leone, until mid-March to file a motion related to the discovery of prosecution evidence.
Leone, head of the white-collar division in New York at Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP, said he “has substantial evidence” in favor of his client, so he estimated that the trial could be extended for two months.
In the same way, Leone notified the judge who asked the prosecution to give him an additional evidence discovery, as well as the transcripts of the Grand Jury, which issued the accusation against his client on September 3, 2019.
If the parties fail to reach an agreement on the discovery of evidence, then the accused may file a motion on or before March 16 for the purpose of the judge issuing the order to the prosecution to deliver the documents.
The judge set a hearing to discuss the status of the case on May 15, 2020. In addition, the hearing before the trial was scheduled for January 14, 2021.
Tribble faces 10 charges for disaster fund fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery, electronic fraud and Travel Act violations.
The accusation is linked to the contracts granted by the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to the company Cobra Acquisitions, LLC, for the repair of the electrical system of the island after the scourge of hurricanes Irma and María. This company won two contracts that amounted to $ 1,900 million between 2017 and 2019, of which PREPA has paid $ 1,100 million.
The accusation shows that, in exchange for her collaboration, Ellison compensated Tribble with gifts such as a helicopter trip over Puerto Rico in February 2018, access and use of an apartment in San Juan, helped her get a place to live in New York in February of the same year, tickets to travel to destinations such as Orlando in July 2018 and Washington DC in November 2018.
Ellison faces eight charges related to this alleged fraud. Patterson, on the other hand, faces three charges for allegedly committing acts that affect a personal financial interest and electronic fraud. The former official resigned from FEMA in July 2018 to work for Cobra Acquisitions LLC, the federal prosecution said.
Tribble’s arrest was diluted in Florida, Ellison’s in Oklahoma and Patterson’s in California.