The former leader of Mashpee Wampanoags has been convicted of accepting bribes in the form of exercise equipment and a weekend stay at a luxury hotel, and misusing funds earmarked for the tribe. The bribe and money were proffered by an architectural firm that was working with the tribe to build a new casino. The chair has been sentenced to three years in prison by the US District Court in Boston, and he is not the only defendant in the case.
Caught Red-Handed and Contrite
Cedric Cromwell, who served as the former chair of the tribe, was also sentenced to pay a $25,000 fine, and will also serve a year of probation after he has served his sentence. The owner of the architectural firm, David DeQuattro, was also sentenced to a year of probation and home confinement of $50,000. The tribe has vituperated against the behavior of its former leader, saying that its reputation has been irreparably damaged. In a public address, chair Brian Weeden, Cromwell’s successor, said:
For over 400 years, the Tribe has fought to preserve its culture, lands and protect its people from constant exploitation and oppression. And yet, we are now facing the ultimate betrayal by one elected and entrusted to lead and act in the best interests of our Tribal Nation and future seven generations.
Weeden blasted Cromwell and said that he had been enriching himself at the expense of tribal members who faced various traumas, such as unemployment, homelessness, addiction and more. Cromwell apologized in court and said that he was repentant for his behavior.
Cromwell also received $10,000 from DeQuattro in November 2015. DeQuattro deposited the money in One Nation Development LLC, a company that was founded by Cromwell under a pretext to help with the tribe’s economic development. However, the money was misused by Cromwell for personal expenses.
The gym equipment worth $1,700 and the three-night stay at a luxury hotel in Boston came later in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The stay cost $1,800 the court heard. Because of these accusations, the proposed $1 billion casino project in Taunton has not been able to proceed according to plan and is currently on hold.