Massachusetts Casino Architect Pleads Not Guilty to Bribery Allegations for $5M Tribal Contract
Posted on: November 20, 2020, 04:13h.
Last updated on: November 20, 2020, 10:09h.
A Rhode Island architect has pleaded not guilty to charges he allegedly bribed the Massachusetts Mashpee Wampanoag tribal chairman. He is alleged to have given tens of thousands of dollars to capture a close to $5 million contract for a planned casino in Taunton.
The Providence Journal newspaper reported that David DeQuattro, 54, of Warwick, entered the plea last week during his arraignment via videoconference before Boston federal court Magistrate Marianne B. Bowler. DeQuattro was released on a $25,000 secured bond.
DeQuattro is facing two federal charges of accepting or paying bribes to an Indian tribal government or agent, and one count of conspiring to commit bribery.
The case stems from an FBI investigation of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and its troubled $1 billion casino project. The tribe’s ex-chairman, Cedric Cromwell, was arrested on multiple charges in connection with the alleged bribery.
He also pleaded not guilty. Cromwell is also free after posting a $25,000 secured bond.
The Mashpee Wampanoag’s Gaming Authority, led by Cromwell, had contracted with Robin Green Beretta Corp., where DeQuattro is managing principal, for the casino project, the Providence Journal reported.
DeQuattro Allegedly Provided Checks, Hotel Stay
Between July 26, 2014 and May 18, 2017, DeQuattro provided Cromwell with “a stream of payments and in-kind benefits valued at $57,549. In exchange, the architecture firm was paid $4,966,287 under its contract with the Gaming Authority,” according to a statement from Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling.
Payments to Cromwell allegedly included $44,000 in personal checks. They were written by DeQuattro to CM International Consulting LLC, an entity owned by a friend of Cromwell’s, Lelling claims.
Cromwell also allegedly directed his friend to deposit DeQuattro’s checks and used the money to buy treasurer’s checks payable to either Cromwell or a shell entity that Cromwell incorporated called “One Nation Development,” Lelling said.
DeQuattro also allegedly wrote one $10,000 personal check directly to One Nation Development.
Following a federal investigation, it was revealed that Cromwell spent all of the money on personal expenses, including payments to his “mistress,” Lelling claims.
The unnamed president of the Rhode Island architecture firm — who has not been charged — allegedly signed company checks reimbursing DeQuattro for his payments to Cromwell, Lelling adds.
The reimbursements were “falsely” characterized as “payroll expenses to conceal what they really were,” Lelling alleges.
The in-kind payments included Cromwell’s weekend stay at a Boston hotel. Cromwell texted that he wanted DeQuattro to “get me a nice hotel room at the Four Seasons or a suite at the Seaport Hotel” for his birthday weekend. He added, “I am going to have a special guest with me,” Lelling said in a statement.
DeQuattro Faces Decades in Prison if Convicted
If convicted on a single charge of paying a bribe to an Indian tribal government agent, DeQuattro could face up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. Since there are two counts, he could have twice the penalties and prison sentence if convicted. More prison time is possible for the conspiracy to charge if he were convicted on that count.
DeQuattro did not provide comment on the allegations.
The planned Taunton casino has faced numerous legal and regulatory controversies and hurdles. Malaysian gaming giant Genting Group provided much of the initial funding for the project.
The tribe has looked to Congress for help in proceeding with the stalled casino project.
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