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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 13, 2020

Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and Owner of Architecture Firm Indicted for Bribery and Extortion

Bribes included $54,000, a Bowflex home gym and a suite at a Boston hotel

BOSTON – The Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the owner of an architecture firm were arrested today and charged in connection with a bribery scheme involving plans to build a resort and casino in Taunton. 

Cedric Cromwell, 55, of Attleboro, the Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and David DeQuattro, 54, of Warwick, R.I., were each indicted on 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 was also indicted on four counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiring to commit extortion. The defendants will make initial appearances via videoconference this afternoon.

“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,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “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.”    

“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.”

According to the indictment, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Gaming Authority, led by 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 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.

It is alleged that the payments to Cromwell 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. DeQuattro also wrote one $10,000 personal check directly to One Nation Development. The indictment alleges that Cromwell spent all of the money on personal expenses, including payments to his mistress. The president of the architecture firm authorized and signed company checks reimbursing DeQuattro for his payments to Cromwell, falsely characterizing the reimbursements as payroll expenses to conceal what they really were.

The alleged in-kind benefits included a used Bowflex Revolution home gym that DeQuattro and the architecture company’s president bought for Cromwell and had delivered to his home. They also agreed to pay for Cromwell’s weekend stay at a Boston hotel after Cromwell texted that he wanted DeQuattro to “get me a nice hotel room at the Four Seasons or a suite at the Seaport Hotel” for his birthday weekend, adding, “I am going to have a special guest with me.”

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 charge of conspiring to commit bribery provides for a sentence of up to five 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 other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Lelling and FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by Attleboro Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers of Lelling’s Public Corruption & Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Component(s): 
Updated November 13, 2020