MASHPEE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and the owner of an architecture firm, were both arrested Friday and charged in connection with a bribery scheme involving plans to build a resort and casino in Taunton.
According to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling's office, 55-year-old Cedric Cromwell of Attleboro, the Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and 54-year-old David DeQuattro of Warwick, R.I., were each indicted on two counts of accepting or paying bribes as an agent (or to an agent) of an Indian tribal government, and one count of conspiring to commit bribery.
Cromwell was also indicted on four counts of extortion, and one count of conspiring to commit extortion. The defendants are both scheduled to make initial appearances via videoconference Friday afternoon.
"The charges allege that Mr. Cromwell violated the trust he owed the Mashpee Wampanog Tribe by committing extortion, accepting bribes and otherwise abusing his position," said Lelling. "Many American Indians face a host of difficult financial and social issues. They require - and deserve - real leadership. But it appears that Cromwell’s priority was not to serve his people, but to line his own pockets. We will continue to aggressively investigate public corruption, including by those who purport to serve our American Indian tribes."
According to the indictment, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Gaming Authority, led by Cromwell, contracted with an architecture-and-design company, owned by DeQuattro, in connection with the Tribe’s plans to build a resort and casino in Taunton. Between approximately July 26, 2014 and May 18, 2017, the architecture firm, through DeQuattro, provided Cromwell with a stream of payments and in-kind benefits valued at $57,549, and, in exchange, the architecture firm was paid approximately $4,966,287 under its contract with the Gaming Authority.
Lelling's office alleges that the payments to Cromwell included $44,000 in personal checks written by DeQuattro to CM International Consulting LLC, an entity owned by a friend of Cromwell.
"Cromwell directed his friend to deposit DeQuattro’s checks and use the funds to buy treasurer’s checks payable to either Cromwell or a shell entity that Cromwell had incorporated called One Nation Development," Lelling's office said. "DeQuattro also wrote one $10,000 personal check directly to One Nation Development."
The indictment alleges that Cromwell spent all of the money on personal expenses, including payments to his mistress. The president of the architecture firm authorized and signed company checks reimbursing DeQuattro for his payments to Cromwell, falsely characterizing the reimbursements as payroll expenses to conceal what they really were.
The alleged in-kind benefits included a used Bowflex Revolution home gym that DeQuattro and the architecture company’s president bought for Cromwell and had delivered to his home.
They also agreed to pay for Cromwell’s weekend stay at a Boston hotel after Cromwell texted that he wanted DeQuattro to “get me a nice hotel room at the Four Seasons or a suite at the Seaport Hotel” for his birthday weekend, adding, “I am going to have a special guest with me.”
The charge of paying a bribe to an agent of an Indian tribal government, or being an agent of an Indian tribal government who accepts a bribe, provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
The charge of conspiring to commit bribery provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
The charges of extortion under color of official right and conspiring to commit extortion each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
(Photo: Getty Images)