The former chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, Cedric Cromwell, pleaded not guilty during a videoconference arraignment in federal court in Boston Thursday, April 1, to all 12 charges brought against him in a superseding indictment.
Mr. Cromwell was removed from his post as chairman after he was indicted last November for his alleged role in a bribery scheme involving the tribe’s plans to build a casino in Taunton. A federal grand jury returned the superseding indictment, which included four new charges of filing false tax returns, in late March. He also faces one count of conspiring to commit bribery, one count of conspiring to commit extortion, two counts of accepting bribes as an agent of an Indian tribal government and four counts of extortion under color of official right.
Mr. Cromwell is accused of conspiring with David DeQuattro, the owner of an architecture firm that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Gaming Authority contracted with to construct a casino. As chairman, Mr. Cromwell was also president of the gaming authority.
The government alleges that between approximately July 26, 2014, and May 18, 2017, Mr. DeQuattro, through his architecture firm, provided Mr. Cromwell with payments and in-kind benefits valued at $57,549. The architecture firm, in exchange, was allegedly paid about $4,966,287 under its contract with the tribe’s gaming authority.
Mr. DeQuattro pleaded not guilty to two counts of paying bribes to an agent of an Indian tribal government and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.
Assistant US District Attorney Christine Wichers said during the court proceedings that the government would call an estimated 30 witnesses for a two-week trial.
Martin G. Weinberg, an attorney representing Mr. DeQuattro, told Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler his client would like to go to trial “at the earliest possible time that the calendar permits.”
Timothy Flaherty, an attorney representing Mr. Cromwell, concurred that he would like to be before US District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock “at the earliest opportunity as well.”
The next status conference is scheduled for Tuesday, May 18. The government filed a motion to exclude the time until the conference from the speedy trial clock. Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Weinberg did not assent to the motion.