Federal authorities have arrested then-president of Cobra Acquisitions LLC, Donald Keith Ellison for bribing two FRMA employees that resulted in his company receiving $1.8 billion in contracts to help restore power to Puerto Rico along with two FEMA employees, Ahsha Nateef Tribble, and Jovanda R. Patterson. Patterson left FEMA to go to work for Cobra.
Ellison allegedly gave Tribble airline flights, hotel accommodations, personal security services and the use of a credit card and in return, she aided Cobra with accelerating payments to the company and pressuring local power authority officials to award it contracts. Ellison claims there was nothing wrong with what he did.
Ellison also gave a job to a friend of Tribble, Jovanda R. Patterson, who had been FEMA deputy chief of staff in Puerto Rico before resigning in July 2018 to work for Cobra Energy LLC, according to the indictment. Cobra Acquisitions and Cobra Energy are subsidiaries of Oklahoma City-based Mammoth Energy Services Inc.
Tribble was FEMA’s primary leader in trying to restore electric power after Hurricane Maria destroyed the power grid in 2017. Cobra was given contracts worth about $1.8 billion.
Authorities said Tribble was arrested Monday in Florida while Ellison was detained in Oklahoma. Ellison made an appearance in Oklahoma City on Tuesday before a federal magistrate, who released him on a $500,000 unsecured bond and ordered him to report to Puerto Rico by Sept. 24, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Troester said. Ellison did not enter a plea to the charges, Troester said.
Ellison’s attorney, Bill Leone, said the government is trying to criminalize a friendship between Ellison and Tribble when there was nothing wrong with their relationship.
“He has done nothing wrong,” Leone said of Ellison. “There’s just absolutely nothing to prohibit that.”