Boss Coia’s Law Firm Involved in DOL Suit Agn. RI Laborers

The law firm employing convicted Laborers boss Arthur Coia is involved in a lawsuit by the U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL) against a Rhode Island legal services plan for allegedly failing to oversee the firm’s legal services activity.

Formed by the R.I chapter of the Laborers’ Intl. Union of N. Amer., the R.I. Laborers’ Legal Services Plan is funded by R.I. contractors with bargaining agreements with the union.  The DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Admin. (EBSA) charges that four of the Plan’s trustees — Ronald Coia, Edward DiRissio, Michael Gammino and David Rampone — failed to maintain any contracts with Lepore & Coia, LTD and the law offices of G. Chandler Beals.  The EBSA also charges that no effort was made to track the legal services work done by the 2 firms in exchange for their retainers of between $9,000-$11,000 a month from 1997 to July 2002.

In the suit, filed in the U.S. Dist. Ct. for R.I., the four defendants are charged with violating the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by failing to: adequately monitor the legal services provided to employees in the plan, and failing to monitor the cost-effectiveness of the two firms’ services.  EBSA is asking the court to remove the four trustees and bar them from serving in any other benefit plan, and require them to reimburse the Plan for any losses caused by their lack of oversight.

Arthur Coia was president of LIUNA until early 2000, when he resigned as part of his guilty plea to defrauding R.I. taxpayers, but was allowed to keep his $250,000 annual salary as “president emeritus.”  In Feb. of this year, Coia got back his license to practice law in R.I.  He is officially employed by Lepore & Coia, but resides in Delray Beach, Fla. [EBSA, 7/16/03, Providence Journal, 7/17/03]