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BOSTON — Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell was arrested Friday morning on two counts of accepting or paying bribes.

The arrest was announced by the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew E. Lelling and the FBI in Boston.

The arrest came after an indictment was issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office charging Cromwell and David DeQuarttro of Warwick, R.I., owner of an architecture firm used by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe for a casino project, 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 Wampanoag 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.”    

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, Mass.

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.

Cromwell, one of Indian Country’s most visible tribal leaders, has gained attention — including from Native News Online — because of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s announcement to take tribal land out of trust earlier this year, including the land in Taunton that was put into trust by the Obama-Biden administration for the planned casino.

As recently as last evening, Cromwell was part of a discussion with the National Congress of American Indians as the organization provides input for the incoming Biden-Harris administration on Indian Country priorities. Cromwell, speaking on behalf of his tribe, urged inclusion of restoration of land taken out of trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe by the Trump administration.

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