Ex-Tribal Chair Gets Three Years in Prison for Accepting Bribes Over Massachusetts Casino Project

  • The case relates to plans by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to develop a casino resort in Taunton
  • Cromwell was found to have accepted three bribes to protect an architecture firm’s contract
  • He received $10,000 in cash, as well as a luxury weekend hotel stay, and home gym equipment
  • Local residents in Taunton are fighting to try to stop the casino project from going ahead
Passing money under the table
A former tribal chair has been sentenced to three years in prison after accepting bribes relating to a casino project. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Not getting off lightly

A former chairman for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has received a prison sentence of three years for accepting bribes relating to a casino project. Cedric Cromwell was sentenced on Tuesday by US Senior District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock. As well as the three-year prison term, he also will be subject to a year of supervised release and has to pay a $25,000 fine.

The owner of a design and architecture firm David DeQuattro was also sentenced on Tuesday for his role in the bribery case. He received a single year of home confinement probation with electronic monitoring and a fine of $50,000.

convicted in May after a ten-day trial in a federal court

Both men were convicted in May after a ten-day trial in a federal court. The charges relate to plans by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to develop a casino resort in Taunton, Massachusetts. The tribe pushed for Cromwell to receive the harshest possible sentence.

Deals under the table

Cromwell was convicted of accepting bribes and extortion-related charges, but a judge acquitted the latter on Tuesday. There are still four outstanding charges against Cromwell relating to the filing of false tax returns. DeQuattro was convicted of a single count of paying a bribe to an Indian tribal government official.

Cromwell was acting as the tribal gaming authority president and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe chairman at the time of the bribery scandal. DeQuattro’s architecture firm secured a contract to work on the First Light Resort and Casino for the tribe.

ended up taking three bribes in return for protecting DeQuattro’s contract

Cromwell ended up taking three bribes in return for protecting DeQuattro’s contract. He received $10,000 in cash in November 2015, a home gym machine worth $1,700 in August 2016, and a luxury hotel weekend stay in May 2017 worth more than $1,800. The judge found DeQuattro guilty of providing the hotel stay and home gym system.

Speaking after the sentencing, US Attorney Rachael Rollins said Cromwell had “dishonored his people and his position by accepting bribes for his own personal gain.” She hopes that the prison sentence will bring accountability to the tribe and close the matter for good. FBI Boston Division special agent in charge Joseph Bonavolonta outlined how Cromwell had gone to great lengths to try to conceal the bribes.

Casino plans stalled

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe are hoping to develop their First Light Resort and Casino on a site 20 miles from Providence, Rhode Island and 40 miles from Boston. It would cost an estimated $1bn to develop and would contain about 600 hotel rooms.

The tribe purchased the land for the First Light Resort and Casino in 2012. The US Department of Interior currently holds the land in trust as reservation land.

While there is a four-phase plan in place to build the casino, there have been delays. The main obstacle is local residents in Taunton who have taken legal action to try to stop the project from going ahead. The tribe remains committed to proceeding with the project once the legal challenges end.