The chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the owner of an Rhode Island architecture firm have been indicted in connection with a bribery scheme involving plans to build a $1 billion resort and casino in Taunton, Massachusetts.
Cedric Cromwell, 55, of Attleboro, the tribal council chairman, was indicted on two counts of accepting or paying bribes as an agent of an Indian tribal government and one count of conspiring to commit extortion. David DeQuattro, 54, of Warwick, Rhode Island, owner of RGB Architects, faces the same three charges.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a statement. “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, headed by Cromwell, contracted with RGB Architects, an architecture and design company owned by DeQuattro, in connection with the tribe's plans to build the First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton. Between 2014 and 2017, the architecture firm allegedly provided Cromwell with payments and in-kind benefits valued at over $57,000. In exchange, the architecture firm was paid almost $5 million under its contract with the gaming authority.
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The payments to Cromwell allegedly included $44,000 in personal checks, and the in-kind benefits included a used Bowflex Revolution home gym and a weekend stay at a Boston hotel.
Federal prosecutors said the hotel stay was paid for after Cromwell texted DeQuattro asking him to "get me a nice hotel room at the Four Seasons or a suite at the Seaport Hotel" for his birthday weekend, adding that he was going to have a "special guest" with him.
“Instead of working honestly on behalf of the Mashpee Wampanoags as their duly elected representative, Cedric Cromwell is accused of using his position as Chairman of the Tribe to enrich himself by extorting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes and engaging in a conspiracy with David DeQuattro to commit bribery. These allegations are extremely troubling and indicate a disdain for the rule of law,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Both men’s alleged actions undercut the efforts of hard-working tribe members and betrayed their trust. Cases like this fuel our commitment to rooting out public corruption, and as our investigation continues, we urge anyone with information to contact us.”
Both Cromwell and DeQuattro are expected to make initial court appearances via video conference on Friday afternoon.