The Associated Press

January 28, 2000

Labor Leader Agrees To Plead Guilty

BOSTON (AP) -- A former labor leader has agreed to plead guilty to evading $100,000 in taxes on his collection of flashy Ferraris.

Arthur A. Coia, 56, of Barrington, R.I., the former head of the Laborers' International Union of North America, reached the agreement involving state and federal taxes on three of the Italian sports cars, prosecutors and his attorney said Thursday.

Despite having the money to acquire cars that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, "Mr. Coia repeatedly found ways to shirk his duty to pay his taxes," U.S. Attorney Donald Stern said.

Coia retired as general president of the union Jan. 1. The union has more than 800,000 members, mostly in the construction, environmental cleanup and maintenance industries. He has an unlisted number and could not be reached for comment.

Prosecutors alleged Coia evaded the state's auto use tax and local excise taxes by registering the cars elsewhere.

For instance, authorities say he saved nearly $59,000 by registering his 1972 Ferrari Daytona in Middletown, Conn., which has lower car taxes than Barrington. The car cost an estimated $1.05 million.

Coia faced only a federal charge of using the mail to carry out the scheme. Attorneys agreed to seek a sentence of two years' probation, along with $100,000 in restitution to Rhode Island and the town of Barrington, and a $10,000 fine.]

"The purpose of the agreement is to allow Mr. Coia to get on with his life," said Howard Gutman, Coia's attorney.

A court hearing on the agreement was scheduled for Monday.

Coia and the union have seen their share of controversy.

In the 1980s, the union was accused of having mob ties by President Reagan's Commission on Organized Crime. In 1995, to avoid racketeering charges, the union entered a formal agreement with the Justice Department, promising to remove alleged mob lieutenants from its ranks and hold direct elections of its officers.

Investigations of internal corruption reached as high as Coia. Last year, Coia was cleared by an independent hearing officer of charges that he had ties to organized crime. But he resigned, saying he was tired of continuing scrutiny of his conduct.

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