November 17, 2022
Architecture Firm Owner Sentenced in Bribery Case
Casino project bribery involved cash, Four Seasons lodging and a used Bowflex machine
BOSTON – The owner of an architecture-and-design firm in Providence, R.I. and the former Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe were sentenced on Tuesday for bribery relating to the Tribe’s plans to build a resort and casino in Taunton, Mass.
Cedric Cromwell, 57, of Attleboro, was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to three years in prison and one year of supervised release. David DeQuattro, 56, of Warwick, R.I., was sentenced by Judge Woodlock to one year of probation to be spent in home confinement with electronic monitoring. Cromwell and DeQuattro were each also ordered to pay fines in the amounts of $25,000 and $50,000, respectively.
On May 5, 2022, the defendants were convicted by a federal jury following a 10-day trial. Specifically, Cromwell was convicted of two counts of accepting bribes as an agent of an Indian tribal government, three counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiring to commit extortion. DeQuattro was convicted of one count of paying a bribe to an agent of an Indian tribal government. Cromwell continues to face four remaining charges of filing a false tax return. At today’s sentencing, Judge Woodlock granted Cromwell’s motion for acquittal on the extortion counts but denied the defendants’ motions for acquittal on the bribery counts.
Cromwell was the Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and President of the Tribe’s Gaming Authority. DeQuattro’s architecture-and-design company signed a contract to serve as the Gaming Authority’s owner representative for the First Light Resort and Casino, which the Tribe was building in Taunton. Cromwell accepted three bribes from DeQuattro in exchange for an agreement to protect DeQuattro’s firm’s contract: $10,000 in November 2015; a Bowflex Revolution home gym in August 2016; and a weekend stay at an upscale Boston hotel in May 2017. DeQuattro was found guilty of bribing Cromwell with regard to the Bowflex and the hotel stay.
“Mr. Cromwell was elected to represent the 12,000-year-old Wampanoag Tribe. He received the privilege of leading the Mashpee Wampanoag people, who put their faith and trust in him with each ballot they cast. Rather than striving to make his community better through honorable deeds of service, he dishonored his people and his position by accepting bribes for his own personal gain,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “It is my hope that today’s sentence brings accountability to the Mashpee Wampanoag community and closes the door on this dark chapter in their rich history. Just last week, I had the privilege of meeting with tribal leaders in Mashpee. I look forward to continued positive interactions and supporting opportunities for education and growth with the tribe members in Mashpee.”
“Cedric Cromwell abused his elected position and betrayed the trust of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe by seeking to monetize his position of power at every turn. He solicited and accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from David DeQuattro over three years and went to great lengths to try and conceal their criminal conduct,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Today’s sentence makes it clear that the FBI will not hesitate to investigate elected officials who commit illegal acts for their own selfish and unlawful gain.”
According to evidence presented at trial, in November 2015, Cromwell received a $10,000 personal check from DeQuattro and deposited it into a bank account for a company he had formed called One Nation Development LLC. Cromwell’s website described One Nation Development as helping Native American tribes with economic development. It stated, “One Nation works with Federal and State agencies on behalf of Native American communities. We have relationships with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and provide our Native community clients with direct and active engagement with these various agencies.” The website touted experience in the areas of strategic planning, gaming, hospitality and legal services. It stated, “One Nation Development is comprised of a team of committed professionals that bring together several decades of collective wisdom and experience to the work done on behalf of client communities. Each professional is individually committed to the One Nation approach: a multi-generational approach to advance 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 a piece of exercise equipment. In turn, DeQuattro and his business partner bought a used Bowflex on Craigslist for $1,700 and had it delivered to Cromwell’s home. Cromwell told DeQuattro he was disappointed it was used.
In May 2017, Cromwell texted DeQuattro: “Hello Dave. I hope all is well. My Birthday is coming up this Friday May 19th and I wanted to spend Friday through Monday at a very nice hotel in Boston for my Birthday weekend. Is it possible that you can get me a nice hotel room at the Four Seasons or a suite at the Seaport Hotel? I am going to have a special guest with me. Please let me know and Thank You.” DeQuattro forwarded the text to his business partner, writing, “U can’t think of this stuff…..what is next?” DeQuattro and his business partner paid over $1,800 for Cromwell to stay in an Executive Suite King – Harbor View at the Seaport Boston Hotel for three nights.
U.S. Attorney Rollins and FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by Attleboro Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine J. Wichers and Jared C. Dolan of Rollins’ Criminal Division prosecuted the case.
With respect to the tax charges, the details contained in the charging document are allegations. Cromwell is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.