Bureau Of National Affairs
LIUNA's Coia Agrees to Plead Guilty On Tax Evasion Related to Ferrari Purchases
By Brian Lockett
Friday, January 28, 2000
As expected, Arthur A. Coia, the now-retired president of the Laborers' International Union of North America, will plead guilty to a criminal charge of tax fraud, the U.S. district attorney in Boston announced Jan. 27 (United States v. Coia, D. Mass., Cr. No. 0010024, charge filed, 1/27/00).
Coia is scheduled to offer that plea and be sentenced Jan. 31 during an appearance before Judge George A. O'Toole of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
A plea agreement between Coia and Donald K. Stern, U.S. district attorney for the District of Massachusetts, recommends to the court that Coia receive two years of probation, make restitution to Rhode Island and the town of Barrington of approximately $100,000 in taxes, and pay a $10,000 fine. The agreement is subject to court approval.
Coia would be barred from future activities of the Laborers and its subordinate entities and could not become an employee of any union for five years.
BNA reported in September 1999 that Coia was poised to resign as union president of and that his resignation would be followed several weeks later by a guilty plea regarding the purchase of a sports car (189 DLR AA-1, 9/30/99). Coia announced his plans to resign as president of LIUNA in December (234 DLR A-8, 12/7/99).
Stern and John R. McGlynn, regional inspector general for investigations with the Department of Labor's Division of Labor Racketeering, filed a one-count "information" document charging Coia with mail fraud.
He was charged with defrauding Rhode Island and Barrington of approximately $100,000 in taxes associated with the purchase of three Ferraris costing a combined $1.715 million.
The information document alleges that from 1991 through 1997, Coia, with assistance from an automotive business group named Viking, purchased various Ferraris costing between $215,000 and $1,050,000. The charges allege that Coia, with assistance from Viking, schemed to defraud Rhode Island of taxes owed for purchase of the cars and taxes to Barrington for possession of the cars.
According to the charge, Coia in 1990 purchased a 1972 Ferrari Daytona for $1,050,000 from a dealer in Florida. In 1993, according to the charge, he fraudulently registered the car to Viking's address in Middletown, R.I., to avoid paying the higher excise tax in Barrington, where Coia lived and kept the car. He was charged with defrauding Barrington of $57,865.01 in taxes.
He purchased an F-40 Ferrari in Viking's name in 1991 for $450,000 from a dealership in Cohasset, Mass., and then purchased that car from Viking two years later for $275,000. Rhode Island has a 7 percent use tax on auto purchases, but Coia paid no tax on the purchase, defrauding the state of $19,250, according to the charge.
In 1993, the charge stated, he paid $215,000 for a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB from a dealer in California, and then shortly after the purchase used a fraudulent invoice from Viking, stating that he had paid $2,160 to register the car in Rhode Island. As a result of that scheme, Coia paid $151.20 in taxes on the purchase of the car instead of the required $15,050, according to the charge. Coia also registered the car to Viking's address in Middletown to avoid paying the higher excise tax in Barrington. The fraudulent registration defrauded Rhode Island and Barrington of $7,632.98, according to the charge.
Stern said in a statement: "While holding important positions at LIUNA , including the office of general president, Mr. Coia engaged in an extensive scheme to cheat Rhode Island and Barrington of approximately $100,000 in taxes. Although he spent well over a million dollars on Ferrari automobiles, Mr. Coia repeatedly found ways to shirk his duty to pay his taxes."
Union Calls Coia 'Innovative, Visionary.'
LIUNA Jan. 27 issued a statement calling Coia "an innovative, visionary, and dynamic member and leader." The union noted that Coia was charged under LIUNA 's internal disciplinary code with "serious allegations of ties to organized crime," and was cleared of those charges by independent hearing officers.
The Laborers called the pleading in Boston "essentially a personal matter" in which there was "no loss or detriment to the union."
"While regrettable, this matter in no way detracts from Mr. Coia's commitment and contributions to the cause of organized labor and working families."
LIUNA predicted that history will show that Coia "helped create a stronger voice and a better life for hundreds of thousands of working men and women."
Coia's attorney Howard Gutman had no comment.
Copyright © 2000 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.