A federal judge in Boston has sentenced former Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe chair Cedric Cromwell to three years in prison for accepting bribes.
Also sentenced Thursday was David DeQuattro, owner of Rhode Island-based RGB Architects. He was convicted in May on one count of paying a bribe to an agent of an Indian tribal government. He received one year of probation to be spent in home confinement with electronic monitoring.
Cromwell and DeQuattro were also ordered to pay fines of $25,000 and $50,000, respectively.
The jury agreed DeQuattro paid Cromwell three bribes in exchange for an agreement to protect RGB’s $5 million consultancy contract on the $1 billion First Light Casino Project in Taunton, Mass.
The contract could be terminated for cause with one week’s notice, or for convenience with a month’s notice. Prosecutors said this allowed Cromwell to solicit bribes in exchange for “favorable action or inaction” on the contract.
In November 2015, DeQuattro gave Cromwell a check for $10,000, which the then-Mashpee chair deposited into a company he had set up called One Nation Development.
This purported to be an organization devoted to helping Native American tribes with economic development. But really, it was a shell company that Cromwell used for his personal expenses.
Then, in August 2016, on request, DeQuattro provided a Cromwell with a Bowflex Revolution home gym. Cromwell was enraged when he discovered it was secondhand, prosecutors said.
Finally, in May 2017, the architect provided Cromwell with a weekend stay at an upscale Boston hotel, worth $1,800.
This, after Cromwell, who was married at the time, sent him the following email:
“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.”
First Light Jeopardy
The First Light project, financed by Genting, was ready to break ground in 2016. But it was halted by a federal court ruling that later caused the Trump administration to order the tribe’s land to be removed from trust.
With no land, the tribe would have no gaming rights under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and there would be no casino.
But the tide turned under the Biden administration. In December, the administration affirmed the tribe’s sovereign land, and the project now appears to be back from the dead.
The tribe removed Cromwell from office after his indictment by a federal grand jury in November 2020.
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