Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Former Chairman Convicted on Corruption, Bribery Charges

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Former Chairman Convicted on Corruption, Bribery Charges

Cedric Cromwell has brought shame to himself and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts. The former tribal chairman was convicted by a federal court on charges of extortion and bribery. Sentencing will take place this September.  During his stint, Cromwell asked an architecture company for $60,000 kickbacks to which RGB Architects owner David DeQuattro agreed, and as a result, he has also been convicted on bribery charges.

Abusing His Position for Personal Gain

The exchange took place around the time the tribe was contracting the company for its First Light Casino in Taunton. Cromwell was indicted on bribery charges at the beginning of last year. Even though he has been cleared from some of the original charges, he still accepted $10,000 in cash from the firm and received a home gym system as gift. He was also treated to a trip and stay in a Boston hotel.

Cromwell knew that he had leverage with RGB because of the company’s $5 million contract which had open-ended termination clauses. This enabled the tribe to do as it pleases, but more importantly – it helped Cromwell carry out his extortion. Cromwell took this new-found power with visible gusto. The original gym system he was sent was second-hand, which, according to court filings, enraged him and he demanded a mint condition set.

Commenting on the case, Joseph Bonavolonta from FBI’s Boston office condemned Cromwell’s actions and said that they tarnished the tribe’s reputation. Part of DeQuattro’s defense was based on the fact that there was no actual bribery happening, but rather that he was contributing to Cromwell’s political campaign and aspirations.

Political Contributions for Campaign That Never Was

However, upon closer investigation, there was no evidence found by prosecutors that Cromwell had used any of the money to finance any political project. Rather, the money was paid to One Nation Development, a shell company, and none of the money forwarded to Cromwell was leveraged for political purposes.

Cromwell is also embroiled in other similar issues as he is beefing with the Internal Revenue Service over $176,000 in alleged tax evasion. This reputational damage comes on top of the rather challenging path the First Light project took. Frivolous changes enacted by the Trump administration excluded the tribe’s land from the trust, effectively halting all attempts to build any land-based facility.

Meanwhile, the tribe’s internal power struggles have been equally disturbing, with Cromwell’s predecessor, Glenn Marshall, ending up facing corruption charges. He was found involved in various unlawful activities. Similar to Cromwell, he had a litany of misdemeanors to his name, including falsifying tax returns, embezzling money for personal gain, and other damning criminal missteps.

Author: Ian Douglas