Coia Gets Off Easy, Keeps $250,000 Annual Salary

After pleading guilty, Arthur A. Coia, the ex-president of the Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am. was sentenced Jan. 31 on charges related to union corruption to two years’ probation, fined $10,000 and agreed to pay $99,646 in restitution, but he gets to keep his $250,000-a-year salary.

Coia, an attorney, defrauded Rhode Island taxpayers of nearly $100,000 in car taxes on three Ferraris that he purchased from a LIUNA vendor, for $215,000 to $1 million. Coia could have received five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Instead, under a sweat-heart deal negotiated with the Clinton-Reno Dep’t of Justice, Coia received a light sentence. The controversial deal bans Coia from any positions of power within LIUNA for life, but allows him to collect his salary as “general president emeritus,” an allegedly ceremonial post created especially for him.

Reportedly, Coia, “looking tanned and solemn in a dark blue suit, crisp white shirt and silver tie, took advantage of his brief remarks to the judge to reflect on four decades as a Laborer, a union in which his father, Arthur E. Coia, a confidant of New England mob boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca, had risen to secretary-treasurer.”

Asst. U.S. Atty. Alex Whiting said Coia had “longstanding ties to organized crime,” but requested that U.S. Dist. Judge George A. O’Toole grant Coia leniency because of his so-called efforts in creating the failed LIUNA “internal reform effort.”  Laughably, Whiting “painted a Jekyll-Hyde portrait” of Coia as union reformer and tax-evader. [Providence J. Bull. & Boston Globe 2/1/00]