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Ex-tribal chairman’s casino bribery trial set for April

January 31, 2022 GMT
FILE - In this May 29, 2014 photo, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell sits behind his desk at the government center in Mashpee, Mass. Cromwell and the owner of a Rhode Island architecture firm were arrested Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, and charged in a bribery scheme involving the tribe's plans to build a resort casino in Taunton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
FILE - In this May 29, 2014 photo, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell sits behind his desk at the government center in Mashpee, Mass. Cromwell and the owner of a Rhode Island architecture firm were arrested Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, and charged in a bribery scheme involving the tribe's plans to build a resort casino in Taunton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
FILE - In this May 29, 2014 photo, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell sits behind his desk at the government center in Mashpee, Mass. Cromwell and the owner of a Rhode Island architecture firm were arrested Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, and charged in a bribery scheme involving the tribe's plans to build a resort casino in Taunton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
FILE - In this May 29, 2014 photo, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell sits behind his desk at the government center in Mashpee, Mass. Cromwell and the owner of a Rhode Island architecture firm were arrested Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, and charged in a bribery scheme involving the tribe's plans to build a resort casino in Taunton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
FILE - In this May 29, 2014 photo, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell sits behind his desk at the government center in Mashpee, Mass. Cromwell and the owner of a Rhode Island architecture firm were arrested Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, and charged in a bribery scheme involving the tribe's plans to build a resort casino in Taunton, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

BOSTON (AP) — A former chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe will have his day in court to face bribery, extortion and other charges related to the tribe’s planned casino project.

Cedric Cromwell’s criminal trial opens April 19 in Boston federal court after being delayed for months by the coronavirus pandemic. He’ll be on trial with co-defendant David DeQuattro, the owner of an architecture firm in Providence, Rhode Island.

Federal prosecutors say Cromwell used his position to extort tens of thousands of dollars in bribes and engaged in a conspiracy to commit bribery with DeQuattro.

They say DeQuattro provided Cromwell with payments and other benefits valued at nearly $60,000 in exchange for nearly $5 million in contracts. Prosecutors allege Cromwell then spent the payments on personal expenses.

Cromwell’s lawyer, Tim Flaherty, said Monday his client denies the charges and looks forward to his trial, adding that Cromwell was a “transformational leader” who helped improve the future of the tribe, which traces its ancestry to the Native Americans whom the Pilgrims encountered centuries ago.

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DeQuattro’s lawyer Martin Weinberg similarly denied the charges, saying his client simply donated to Cromwell’s political campaign. “They were not bribes,” he said.

The Cape Cod-based tribe’s casino plan has faced years of legal setbacks, but last month received a boost when President Joe Biden’s administration affirmed the tribe’s sovereign reservation.