Cedric Cromwell, the longtime chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, was arrested Friday along with the owner of a Rhode Island architecture firm on federal charges alleging they engaged in a bribery scheme related to plans to build a resort and casino in Taunton, said US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office.
In a statement, Lelling’s office said Cromwell, 55, of Attleboro, and David DeQuattro, 54, of Warwick, R.I., both face 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, Lelling’s office alleged, also was indicted on four counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiring to commit extortion. Both men are slated to make initial appearances in US District Court in Boston via videoconference Friday afternoon, according to the statement.
Prosecutors allege that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Gaming Authority, led by Cromwell, contracted with DeQuattro’s architecture and design company in connection with the tribe’s plans to build a Taunton casino.
“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,” the statement said.
Lelling’s office added that the payments allegedly 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 also alleged that “DeQuattro also wrote one $10,000 personal check directly to One Nation Development” and that “Cromwell spent all of the money on personal expenses, including payments to his mistress.”
Lelling denounced Cromwell’s alleged malfeasance in the statement.
“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,” Lelling said. “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.’
This is a developing story and will be updated.