Former Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe President and Architectural Firm Owner Found Guilty of Corruption | USAO-MA
BOSTON – The former Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe president and owner of an architecture and design firm in Providence, RI, was convicted today by a federal jury of bribery involving the tribe’s plans to build a resort hotel and casino in Taunton.
Cedric Cromwell, 55, of Attleboro, was convicted after a 10-day jury trial on two counts of accepting bribes as an agent of a Indian tribal government, three counts of extortion under cover of official law and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. Cromwell faces four remaining charges of filing a false tax return, which will be dealt with at a later date. David DeQuattro, 54, of Warwick, RI, was found guilty of one count of paying a bribe to an agent of an Indian tribal government. U.S. Primary District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock sets sentencing for September 9, 2022.
The jury acquitted both defendants of one count of conspiracy to corrupt federal programs. DeQuattro was also found not guilty of one count of bribery relating to programs receiving federal funds and Cromwell was found not guilty of one count of extortion.
Cromwell was chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and chairman of the Tribe’s Gaming Authority. DeQuattro’s architecture and design firm signed a contract to serve as the Gaming Authority owner’s representative for the First Light Resort and Casino, which the tribe was building in Taunton. Cromwell was convicted of accepting three kickbacks from DeQuattro in exchange for an agreement to protect DeQuattro’s business contract: $10,000 in November 2015, a Bowflex Revolution home gym in August 2016 and a weekend at an upscale Boston hotel in May 2017. DeQuattro was found guilty of bribing Cromwell in regards to the Bowflex and the hotel stay. The jury also found Cromwell guilty of extortion under cover of official law in relation to the above three items and of conspiracy to commit extortion.
“No one is above the law. That rings true today, loud and clear,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Mr. Cromwell and Mr. DeQuattro entered into a corruption-fueled business deal for their own selfish and illegal 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 it clear that the jury saw this case for what it is: a classic example of public corruption.
“Today’s verdict proves that Cedric Cromwell accepted $10,000 and other valuables in bribes, engaged in extortion and abused his elected position as President of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to line his own pockets at the expense of tribal 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 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 office. 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 personal check for $10,000 from DeQuattro and deposited it into a bank account for a company he started called One Nation Development LLC. Cromwell’s website describes One Nation Development as helping Native American tribes grow economically. He said, “One Nation works with federal and state agencies on behalf of Native American communities. We have relationships with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and offer our clients from the Aboriginal community direct and active engagement with these various agencies. The website boasted experience in strategic planning, gaming, hospitality and legal services. He said, “One Nation Development is made up of a team of committed professionals who bring together decades of collective wisdom and experience for the work done on behalf of client communities. Each professional individually commits to the One Nation approach: a multi-generational approach to advancing 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 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 he was used.
In May 2017, Cromwell texted DeQuattro: “Hello Dave. I hope everything is okay. My birthday is coming up this Friday May 19th and I wanted to spend Friday thru Monday at a very nice hotel in Boston for my birthday weekend. Is it possible you can get me a nice hotel room at the Four Seasons or a suite at the Seaport Hotel? I will have a special guest with me. Please let me know and thank you. DeQuattro forwarded the text to his business partner, writing, “You can’t think of that stuff…..what’s next?” DeQuattro and his business partner paid more than $1,800 for Cromwell to stay in a King – Harbor View executive suite at the Seaport Boston Hotel for three nights.
The charge of paying a bribe to an Indian tribal government official, or being an Indian tribal government official who accepts a bribe, carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, three years of probation and a fine of $250,000. The charges of extortion under guise of official law and conspiracy to commit extortion each carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of probation and a $250,000 fine. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on US sentencing guidelines and the laws that govern sentencing in a criminal case.
US Attorney Rollins and FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Attleboro Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine J. Wichers and Jared C. Dolan of Rollins’ Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
Regarding tax charges, the details contained in the billing documents are allegations. Cromwell is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.