BOSTON (WPRI) — The now-former Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the owner of an architecture firm were arrested 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.
Cedric Cromwell, 55, of Attleboro, former chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and David DeQuattro, 54, of Warwick were both indicted on two counts of accepting or paying bribes as an agent of an Indian tribal government and one count of conspiring to commit bribery.
Cromwell was also indicted on four counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiring to commit extortion.
Both pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday and were released on $25,000 bond.
According to the indictment, 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 July of 2014 and May of 2017, the architecture firm, through DeQuattro, provided Cromwell with “a stream of payments and in-kind benefits” of roughly $57,500. In exchange, the architecture firm was paid approximately $4.9 million, according to Lelling.
The indictment says Cromwell used the money on personal expenses, including a weekend stay at a Boston hotel, a home gym and payments to his mistress.
“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,” Lelling said. “We will continue to aggressively investigate public corruption, including by those who purport to serve our American Indian tribes.”
“Both men’s alleged actions undercut the efforts of hard-working tribe members and betrayed their trust,” Joseph Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said. “Cases like this fuel our commitment to rooting out public corruption, and as our investigation continues, we urge anyone with information to contact us.”
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe voted unanimously during an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to remove Cromwell as chairman of the tribe.
“We take the charges brought against Cedric Cromwell very seriously, alleging that he used his position at the Tribe to ‘enrich himself by extorting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes,'” a spokesperson for the Tribe said. “The Tribe’s focus remains on ensuring that the our land remains in trust and supporting our tribal sovereignty.”
A spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation told 12 News DeQuattro was appointed to the state’s Architectural Registration Board by Governor Lincoln Chafee in 2013. It’s unclear if he is still a member of that board.
Cromwell and DeQuattro did not return emails requesting comment.