- By Native News Online Staff
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.
It's December 2020, can you help...
We’re asking our readers for a little help as 2020 draws to a close. If you can afford it, we hope you’ll consider a one-time donation of $5 or more to help fund our Indigenous-led coverage of important news throughout Indian Country. Covering the news hasn’t been easy this year, but we believe it’s been critically important given the changes and upheaval we’ve experienced — from COVID-19 and the 2020 Census, to issues of racial equity, efforts to suppress the Native vote, and far too many stories of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.
Because we believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities, the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount, big or small, gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.