BOSTON – The former Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the owner of an architecture-and-design firm in Providence, R.I. were convicted today by a federal jury in connection with bribery involving the Tribe’s plans to build a resort and casino in Taunton.
Cedric Cromwell, 55, of Attleboro, was convicted following a 10-day jury trial of two counts of accepting bribes as an agent of an Indian tribal government, three counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiring to commit extortion. Cromwell faces four remaining charges of filing a false tax return, which will be addressed at a later date. David DeQuattro, 54, of Warwick, R.I., was convicted of one count of paying a bribe to an agent of an Indian tribal government. U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduling sentencing for Sept. 9, 2022.
The jury acquitted both defendants of one count of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery. DeQuattro was also found not guilty on one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds and Cromwell was found not guilty on one count of extortion.
Cromwell was the Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and President of the Tribe’s Gaming Authority. DeQuattro’s architecture-and-design company signed a contract to serve as the Gaming Authority’s owner’s representative for the First Light Resort and Casino, which the Tribe was building in Taunton. Cromwell was found guilty of accepting three bribes from DeQuattro in exchange for an agreement to protect DeQuattro’s firm’s contract: $10,000 in November 2015, a Bowflex Revolution home gym in August 2016 and a weekend stay at an upscale Boston hotel in May 2017. DeQuattro was found guilty of bribing Cromwell with regard to the Bowflex and the hotel stay. The jury also found Cromwell guilty of extortion under color of official right in connection with the three above items and conspiracy to commit extortion.
“No one is above the law. That rings true today, loudly and clearly,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Mr. Cromwell and Mr. DeQuattro entered into a business arrangement that was fueled by bribery for their own selfish and unlawful gain. In doing so, Mr. Cromwell exploited his position and the trust placed in him by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Today’s guilty verdict makes clear that the jury saw this case for what it is – a textbook example of public corruption.”
“Today’s verdict proves that Cedric Cromwell accepted $10,000 and other valuable items in bribes, committed extortion, and abused his elected position as Chair of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to line his own pockets at the expense of Tribe members whose trust he grossly betrayed,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “The quid pro quo scheme that he orchestrated with David DeQuattro was an affront to the Tribe that elected him to serve their best interests. This is exactly why the FBI will not hesitate to investigate elected officials who use their positions to commit illegal acts. We are committed to protecting the integrity of government at all levels from the plunder of public corruption.”
In November 2015, Cromwell received a $10,000 personal check from DeQuattro and deposited it into a bank account for a company he had formed called One Nation Development LLC. Cromwell’s website described One Nation Development as helping Native American tribes with economic development. It stated, “One Nation works with Federal and State agencies on behalf of Native American communities. We have relationships with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and provide our Native community clients with direct and active engagement with these various agencies.” The website touted experience in the areas of strategic planning, gaming, hospitality and legal services. It stated, “One Nation Development is comprised of a team of committed professionals that bring together several decades of collective wisdom and experience to the work done on behalf of client communities. Each professional is individually committed to the One Nation approach: a multi-generational approach to advance community-building solutions.” In fact, One Nation Development had no employees and Cromwell spent DeQuattro’s check on personal expenses.
In August 2016, Cromwell asked DeQuattro for a piece of exercise equipment. DeQuattro and his business partner paid $1,700 to buy a used Bowflex on Craigslist, and had it delivered to Cromwell’s home. Cromwell told DeQuattro he was disappointed it was used.
In May 2017, Cromwell texted DeQuattro: “Hello Dave. I hope all is well. My Birthday is coming up this Friday May 19th and I wanted to spend Friday through Monday at a very nice hotel in Boston for my Birthday weekend. Is it possible that you can get me a nice hotel room at the Four Seasons or a suite at the Seaport Hotel? I am going to have a special guest with me. Please let me know and Thank You.” DeQuattro forwarded the text to his business partner, writing, “U can’t think of this stuff…..what is next?” DeQuattro and his business partner paid over $1,800 for Cromwell to stay in an Executive Suite King – Harbor View at the Seaport Boston Hotel for three nights.
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 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. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
U.S. Attorney Rollins and FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by Attleboro Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine J. Wichers and Jared C. Dolan of Rollins’ Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
With respect to the tax charges, the details contained in the charging documents are allegations. Cromwell is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.