Mashpee Tribe Victim of Former Chief’s Casino Crimes, Should be Compensated, Says US Govt
The Massachusetts-based Mashpee Tribe of Wampanoag should receive $239,726.94 in restitution for legal costs following the conviction of its former chairman, Cedric Cromwell, on bribery charges. That’s according to a brief filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts Monday by US Attorney Rachael Rollins.
Cromwell, 57, was convicted of bribery and extortion charges related to the tribe’s planned $1 billion First Light Casino project, which had the financial backing of Malaysian casino giant Genting. He was sentenced to three years in prison in November.
Also convicted was architect David DeQuattro, 56, who the jury agreed paid Cromwell three bribes to protect his firm RGB’s $5 million consultancy contract on the casino project, in Taunton Mass. He was sentenced to one year of home confinement.
Rollins acknowledged that DeQuattro bore “less responsibility” than Cromwell for the tribe’s woes but requested that the court hold them jointly and severally liable for restitution. That’s because DeQuattro has significant income and assets, whereas Cromwell does not, and this increases the likelihood that the tribe will be paid, Rollins said.
“The Tribe is a victim of the defendants’ crimes. Among other things, its reputation was severely damaged as a result of Mr. Cromwell’s indictment, conviction, and sentence for bribery in connection with the Tribe’s plans to build a resort and casino,” Rollins wrote.
That injury has caused distrust in potential lenders for the project, impeding the Tribe’s ability to obtain financing for economic development,” she added.
The tribe also had to hire new architects for the casino, as well as for a housing project that DeQuattro’s company, Rhode Island-based RGB, was overseeing. This caused significant delays and cost increases. The housing project was ultimately funded by low-income tax credits.
“The Tribe had to spend considerable time and resources assuring its investors and development partners that it was not complicit in the Cromwell-RGB conspiracy,” Rollins wrote.
In November 2015, DeQuattro gave Cromwell a check for $10K. The then-Mashpee chair deposited this into a company he had established himself called One Nation Development. This purported to be an organization focused on helping Native American tribes with economic development. But it was really a shell company that Cromwell used for his personal expenses, according to court documents.
In August 2016, Cromwell demanded and received a Bowflex Revolution home gym from the architect. He was enraged when he discovered it was secondhand, prosecutors said.
Finally, in May 2017, DeQuattro paid $1,800 for Cromwell to stay at an upscale Boston hotel on his birthday weekend.
Both men are appealing their sentences.
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