Coia Pleads Guilty!

Arthur A. Coia, ex-boss of the Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am., has agreed to plead guilty to a mail fraud charge related to union corruption. U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern in Boston and John R. McGlynn, of Dep’t of Labor’s Racketeering Division, announced Jan. 27 that Coia defrauded the State of Rhode Island and the Town of Barrington, R.I., of approximately $100,000 in taxes. The deal alleges that from 1991-97, Coia, with the assistance car dealers under the name of Viking (a LIUNA vendor), purchased Ferraris  that ranged from $215,000 to $1,050,000 and avoided taxes due on the purchase and ownership of those cars. “While holding important leadership positions at LIUNA… Coia repeatedly found ways to shirk his duty to pay his taxes,” said Stern.

In the plea, the government recommended a two-year probation term, full restitution and a $10,000 fine.  Additionally, Coia is barred from any future role in LIUNA or its subordinate entities in any capacity, and to be barred from being an employee of any other union for a period of five years.  Coia “retired” as LIUNA’s boss on Jan. 1. He is now president emeritus and get $335,000 a year. The plea is subject to approval by U.S. Dist. Judge George A. O’Toole. [USAO D. Mass., Media Release 1/27/00]

“Coia’s plea further illustrates that the Laborers’ ‘internal reform effort’ is a sham,” said NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm.  “Since 1995, Coia and LIUNA have perpetuated the myth that Coia is ‘squeaky clean.’  Finally, it is confirmed that Coia is just another dirty union boss.  The Clinton-Reno Justice Department should be embarrassed that it has taken so long to bring Coia to partial justice.”

“The agreement doesn’t go far enough.  For years Coia has avoided justice. Now that he’s caught, the government should not go soft on him.  Coia is a corrupt union boss who should get what he deserves — prison,” added Boehm.

Coia, in his office three blocks from the White House, used a Ferrari coffee mug, had Ferrari toy cars and displayed Ferrari posters.  When union officials who disdained such “high living” visited his office, he would temporarily replace his Ferrari pictures with posters by Ralph Fasanella, a painter famous for his “loving” depictions of factories. [N.Y. Times 1/28/00]

DOJ Capitulates to LIUNA
Accountability sunk to a new low in the ongoing scam between the Dep’t of Justice and LIUNA.  The extension of the 1995 DOJ-LIUNA agreement, by which the union avoided a DOJ’s racketeering suit and takeover, was set to expire Jan. 31. On Jan. 20, the agreement was replaced with a weakened agreement that expires in 2006. Unlike the prior agreement, the new deal has no takeover threat.  Before, DOJ could take over the union if DOJ felt the union’s “internal reform effort” was failing. Though the last five years have shown that this threat was meaningless, it was at least something.  Now DOJ has virtually nothing: it can “veto” major changes in LIUNA’s “internal reform effort.”  What is a major change?  How will this “veto” be enforced?

The new agreement also calls for Stephen A. Goldberg, a law professor, to oversee LIUNA’s 2001 and 2006 elections.  He oversaw the 1996 election of corrupt ex-LIUNA boss Arthur A. Coia.  [BNA, Providence J.-Bull. 1/21/00]