Mashpee Wampanoag council chairman Cedric D. Cromwell (b. 1965) is the third in a relatively recent line of tribal council leaders for the group since they were formally recognized as an Indian tribe in 2007. He was elected to the chairman’s position in 2009 following the conviction of one of his predecessors Glenn Marshall on federal charges of embezzling, wire fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion and election finance law violations. When convicted Marshall had already stepped down from the chairman position in August of 2007 following disclosures of a prior rape conviction and falsification of his military record; however, he continued to play a prominent role with the tribe on gaming and related issues until his 2009 convictions and sentencing. His vice-chairman Shawn Hendricks assumed the chairman’s slot from October 2007 until Cromwell’s election in 2009 making Cromwell only the second elected council chair since the tribe’s federal recognition.
Following Glenn Marshall’s well publicized conviction, Cedric Cromwell ran for council chair on a platform of “cleaning house” and reform from the corruption which took down the previous administration. However, Cromwell had been serving as a member of that tribal council under Marshall since before his removal in October 2007. From 2007 to 2009 Cromwell represented the council with Marshall in gaming-related meetings with Middleboro and Fall River officials and conducted numerous joint media interviews with Marshall on the tribe’s gaming plans.
Cedric Cromwell’s 2009 election was celebrated by some but was also tainted by complaints from other tribe members of election and voter fraud alleging that the election managers, all of whom were reportedly related to Cromwell, were alleged to have manipulated voter lists and allowed individuals multiple ballots in Cromwell’s favor. Further, the complaints alleged Cromwell’s relatives blocked access to and tampered with the tribe’s membership and genealogy files in support of his membership and candidacy. With Cromwell’s election came new financial backers for the tribe in the form of Malaysian billionaire Lim Goh Tong and his Kien Huat Realty arm of the Genting Group.
Other tribe members brought into question the legitimacy of Cromwell’s tribal status as Mashpee Wampanoag tribal membership requirement includes: “Persons who have lived in or near Mashpee, Massachusetts, or have had family members actively involved in tribal community affairs who have lived in or near Mashpee, Massachusetts for at least the preceding 20 years prior to application for membership.”
Prior to his role as a council member in the Glenn Marshall administration in 2007, the year the tribe received formal recognition; there is little public evidence of Cromwell’s association or involvement with the Wampanoag tribe. Cromwell appears to have been added to the tribal membership roster submitted to the Department of Interior in 2006, but did not appear on the tribes previous membership roster submitted in 2002. Around this period a Time Magazine investigation on Indian gaming claimed that tribe backers associated with Wampanoag lobbyist Jack Abramoff hired genealogists and lawyers to help casino supporters construct and qualify for tribal membership (see side bar). Did Chairman Cromwell get such help?
From March 1996 to December 2008 Cromwell was a financial services manager with Fidelity Investments in Providence, Rhode Island. From 2002 to present he resided in Attleboro, MA some sixty miles from Mashpee. In different documents Cromwell claims to have attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (2004-2005) where he stated he received a Bachelors in “CPCS;” however, following allegations that this was not a valid claims his resume with his education details was removed from the tribe’s official website. It appears he in fact attended University of Massachusetts in Boston where he may have earned a certificate in Community Planning in 2005. One of Cromwell’s LinkedIn profiles claims his degree was in Management and Public Administration, and that he also received an A.S. (Associates) degree from Roxbury Community College in Computer Information Systems.
Born in Boston to James Oliver Cromwell of Nova Scotia and Constance “Connie” Tobey, Cedric Cromwell grew up in the Dorchester and Hyde Park neighborhoods of Boston, Massachusetts with his brother Craig. Cedric attended high school in East Boston where he was a member of the class of 1983 at Mario Umana Technical School. Cromwell was not born or raised in or around the community of Mashpee and his mother Connie Tobey reportedly moved from Mashpee to Dorchester at the age of five.
Today Cromwell continues to reside in Attleboro, Massachusetts some sixty miles from Mashpee. Cedric’s brother Craig Oliver Cromwell, who resides in Dorchester with his mother Connie, does not appear to have laid any claims to his Indian ancestry or membership rights in the recently recognized Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. These facts bring into question Cromwell’s residency qualifications for tribal membership under the groups own bylaws.
Attending the Mario Umana school in East Boston required City of Boston residency, so Mr. Cromwell was still living in the City at least until 1983. It is unclear where Cromwell resided from 1983 – 2002; however, records lists a Cedric Cromwell residing at 48 Stockton Street, Apt. #2, Dorchester, MA during this time. During this time he reportedly attended Roxbury Community College suggesting he remained in the Boston area, not Mashpee or the South Shore. This hardly falls into the residency requirement category of having lived in or near Mashpee for the past twenty years.
A 2010 investigative report by Brian Kehrl of The Enterprise Cape News revealed a twisted tail of Wampanoag lobbyists, including Jack Abramoff, Michael Smith and Kevin Ring with references to bribery and the placement of “Manchurian Candidate” officials on local boards by the casino industry backers behind the Wampanoags. Cromwell’s wife, Cheryl Frye is noted in this report as one of the key tribe liaisons with the town. So the question we must ask, is Cedric Cromwell the Genting Group’s Manchurian candidate and how did he qualify for tribal membership status?