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Melanie Porter December 11, 2023 4 min read
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Asks for Compensation from Ex-Leader
Massachusetts’ Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is asking for compensation for alleged financial losses and legal costs from former leader Cedric Cromwell who was found guilty of accepting bribes and extortion
On November 13, The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and two of its affiliates, Louis Catarina of Greenville, Rhode Island, and Constantinos Mitrokostas, of Mashpee, initiated a civil lawsuit against the tribe’s former chairman, Cedric Cromwell.
The lawsuit alleges that both the Massachusetts-based tribe and its two affiliates have suffered financial harm as a result of Cromwell’s federal indictment in 2020. The latter was tied to the tribe’s intention to build a Taunton resort and casino called First Light Resort and Casino.
The civil lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts’ Barnstable County Superior Court on seven different charges, including honest services fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, civic conspiracy, and fraudulent concealment.
Business Interruption and Money Loss
In May 2022, the former tribe chairman was found guilty of three counts of extortion under color of official right, two counts of accepting a bribe as an agent of an Indian tribal government, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion, for which he received a prison sentence totaling 36 months.
He was also asked to pay a fine of $25,000 and a $200 special assessment, along with a restitution of $250,000 as of January 9.
In light of the indictment on the respective charges, the plaintiffs had to interrupt their business, which incurred a series of costs. They also tried to find new sources of financing in the context of their reputations being harmed by the indictment.
The plaintiffs, which include the tribe, as well as the Mashpee Wampanoag Village Limited Partnership and the Mashpee Wampanoag Gaming Authority, are now asking for financial compensation in an amount to be determined, along with interest and costs.
Allegations of Laundered Money and Payment Funneling
The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe gave the green light for the $1 billion Taunton resort and casino complex in 2012, back when Cromwell was chairman.
The Mashpees placed 321 acres of land into the federal trust in September 2015 and partnered with Genting for the project.
According to the filed lawsuit, during that time, and at Cromwell’s direction, Catarina and Mitrokostas funneled payments from third parties looking to do business with the plaintiffs into bank accounts that were under the control of the chairman.
Allegedly, according to the plaintiffs, Cromwell took advantage of his role as chairperson and president of the Gaming Authority to make money from others by selling access to the highest ranks of the governmental body of the tribe.
Court documents claim Mitrokostas assisted Cromwell with selling access by helping to launder funds through CM International and several other entities. The same documents named Mitrokostas as the only member of CM International who had complete control over CM International Consulting, LLC.
Catarina allegedly assisted the chairman by playing the role of his agent in soliciting individuals interested in getting access and instructing them on how to pay for and gain that access.
Cromwell’s Appeal Pending in Federal Court
Members of the tribe elected Cromwell as chairman in 2009 and re-elected him in 2013 and 2017. From his position, he was responsible for presiding over all of the tribal council’s meetings and performing standard chairperson duties, which included acting as the tribe’s official spokesperson and engaging in public relations.
According to federal prosecutors, Cromwell made use of the First Light casino project to his advantage, allegedly accepting a $10,000 cash bribe, a Bowflex Revolution home gym, and a “weekend stay at an upscale Boston hotel in May 2017” from architect David DeQuattro in exchange for a $5 million design contract.
The former chairman appealed his 2022 sentence in January 2023. His case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, as per court documents and information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Cromwell was granted bail pending appeal of his conviction.