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Former head of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe convicted of bribery, extortion

Former chairman of the Wampanoag tribe Cedric Cromwell pictured in his office.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/file

Cedric Cromwell, the former chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, was convicted of extortion and bribery Thursday by a federal jury in Boston for soliciting a $10,000 payment, gym equipment, and a weekend stay at an upscale hotel from a Rhode Island architectural firm overseeing the tribe’s plans for a $1 billion casino in Taunton.

The jury also convicted David DeQuattro, the architect who provided the payments on behalf of Robinson Green Beretta Corp., known as RGB Architects, of bribery for paying $1,800 for Cromwell’s three-night stay at the Seaport Hotel in Boston and $1,700 for a used Bowflex Revolution home gym. At the time, DeQuattro was head of business development at the company, which he now owns.


The jury acquitted both men of charges that they conspired to commit bribery by orchestrating a steady stream of cash payments, totaling $54,000, to Cromwell between 2014 and 2017, when the casino project was halted. Although the jury convicted Cromwell of bribery and extortion for soliciting $10,000 from DeQuattro in 2015 under the pretext that it was a political donation, it found DeQuattro not guilty of bribery for making the payment.

US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock, who presided over the trial, has yet to rule on defense motions filed before the jury’s verdict seeking an acquittal, based partly on arguments that the prosecution failed to prove that Cromwell did anything in exchange for the payments.

After the jury’s verdict was announced, Woodlock said he will consider the motions and ordered both sides to file briefs next month.

“While we respect the jury’s verdict, there are complicated legal issues that require further legal argument and we expect to be pursuing all avenues of relief in that vein,” said Cromwell’s attorney, Timothy R. Flaherty.

Martin Weinberg, a lawyer who represents DeQuattro, said “the jury acquitted Mr. DeQuattro of the overarching conspiracy and all of the allegations that political donations he gave to Mr. Cromwell were illegal.”


Weinberg said DeQuattro’s defense “raised significant legal challenges to the overall government prosecution” and intends to “vigorously advocate for Mr. DeQuattro’s complete acquittal.”

Cromwell, 56, of Attleboro, was convicted of two counts of bribery, three counts of extortion, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion. He was acquitted of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of extortion for receiving a $4,000 payment from DeQuattro in 2017.

DeQuattro, 56, of Warwick, R.I., was convicted of one count of bribery, stemming from the hotel stay and exercise equipment.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe chairman Brian Weeden, who was elected to the post last year, said in a statement Thursday that tribal members are disappointed in Cromwell.

“We place a tremendous amount of trust in our elected officials,” Weeden said. “Cedric abused that trust. This case represents an unfortunate chapter and sadly detracts from the great work we are doing socially, culturally, and politically to support our people. We can now focus on healing our nation with the case behind us.”

Prosecutors alleged that Cromwell extorted $54,000 in cash, and benefits worth an additional $3,500 from RGB Architects — through DeQuattro — while the company was overseeing the tribe’s plans to build a casino on reservation land in Taunton. At the time, Cromwell was also serving as president of the tribe’s five member gaming authority, which paid the company nearly $5 million under a consulting contract that could be terminated for cause with seven days’ notice or for convenience with a month’s notice.


The indictment alleged the payments were in exchange for “favorable action or inaction” on the contract by the Mashpee Wampanoag’s gaming authority.

Defense lawyers argued that the payments were for Cromwell’s reelection campaign as chairman of the tribe, but prosecutors presented evidence that he spent the money on personal expenses. Cromwell resigned from the post after his indictment in November 2020.

During the three-week trial, jurors were shown a text Cromwell sent DeQuattro in May 2017, asking him to pay for a three-night stay at a Boston hotel for his birthday.

“Is it possible that you can get me a nice hotel room at the Four Seasons or a suite at the Seaport Hotel?” Cromwell texted. “I’m going to have a special guest with me. Please let me know and Thank You.”

DeQuattro forwarded the message to Joseph Beretta, then the president of RGB Architects, and wrote “u can’t think of this stuff . . . what is next?”

Beretta, who testified under a grant of immunity, identified invoices showing that DeQuattro booked Cromwell an executive king suite with a harbor view at the Seaport Hotel and used his company credit card to pay $1,800, covering all but about $600 of the bill.

Shelley Murphy can be reached at shelley.murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.