Bureau Of National Affairs

Tuesday July 23, 1996









The Laborers' International Union of North America July 22 issued a statement accusing House Republican leaders of reneging on a promise to limit the focus of hearings July 24 and July 25 on the Clinton administration's handling of racketeering charges against the union.


In a statement, Linda Fisher, spokeswoman for the union, called on GOP leaders to “live up to their word” that the hearings “will not be a personal attack on any individual, but focus on the process and effectiveness” of an agreement between the Justice Department and union officials to rid the union of organized crime influence.


Fisher pointed to a recent announcement by the House Republican Conference, chaired by Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), stating that the subcommittee was not planning to “rehash the charges” against LIUNA General President Arthur A. Coia. The purpose of the hearings, the statement said, was “simply to ensure that the integrity of our nation's criminal justice system remains intact.”


However, in a July 19 announcement the subcommittee said the hearing will include testimony by a confidential organized crime informant who will “detail the connection between organized crime” LIUNA, and Coia (140 DLR A-13, 7/22/96).


The subcommittee announcement said the identity of the informant will be concealed. But several union sources said the witness is Ronald M. Fino, a leader of a Buffalo, N.Y., local and a confidant of Coia's father, the late Arthur E. Coia, who was the union's general secretary-treasurer.


The union source, who did not wish to be identified, claimed that Fino is a well-known informant who has testified in open court on a number of occasions, and accused Republicans of concealing his identity merely to dramatize the hearings to heighten their political impact.


A spokeswoman for Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla) said she could not confirm or deny that Fino would testify and had no comment on the union's charges.


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