April 18, 1996

 

Laborers International Union

Inspector General Douglas Gow

 

Re: Arthur A. Coia, Investments and Legal Plans.

 

Dear Doug,

 

It seems that Arthur A. Coia has been involved in some questionable financial transactions involving his law firm the Gateway building and the City of Providence. Some of his utilization of various legal defense funds and real estate investments are included.

 

History and Relevant Information

 

1. 1974, formation of the Rhode Island Public Service Employees Legal Service Fund.

 

2. Around 1979 together with his father, Santo Traffacante and Philip Schwab purchased a shopping mall around Tampa Florida.

 

3. 1980, Creation of the North American Defense League.

 

4. 1981, Federal Indictment

 

5. 1981, Angelo Fosco received around $50,000.00 from both at least two of the Coia created defense funds and in violation of the fund trust agreements. Commingling of fund assets.

 

6. 1982, the North American Defense League changed its name to the North American Laborers Defense League in an effort to correct legal mistakes made by Arthur A. Coia

 

7. 1983, Arnold Killberg, Arthur A, Coia, John Capaldi, (A LIUNA signatory employer) Frank Corrente and others purchased the Gateway building.

 

8. 1986, Philip Schwab (Cuyahoga Wrecking) receives demolition contracts for the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, and the Fort Lauderdale airport. (non-union)

 

9. 1988, non-interest bearing holding account at the Heritage Loan and Investment Co. (ERISA violation)

 

10. 1994, Sale of Gateway building to the Rhode Island Public Service Employees Legal Service Plan.

 

 

Synopsis

 

Around the middle seventies when Coia was with the Rhode Island District Council, he aided in the formation of the Rhode Island Public Service Employees Legal Fund. In concert with his father and Joseph Virgilio the President of Laborers Local 1033 a contract with the City of Providence was consummated.

 

At that time the Mayor of Providence was Joseph Doorley and after receiving financial and political support from the Laborers he agreed to the Legal Plan. Ironically after losing a reelection bid Doorley was named as the Administrator of the Legal Fund.

 

A. Instead of following traditional and normal guidelines in the establishment of a Taft Hartly Trust Fund, this plan was not established as a non for profit organization.

 

B. After the formation of the North American Defense League in 1980 as a result of the Federal Investigation. At that time the only contributors were local unions and laborers from the New England area. In violation of applicable ERISA laws, Coia Sr., had his son send Angelo Fosco and his attorney (Foran) around $50,000.00 to aid with his legal expense. The laborers International Union reimbursed Arthur Coia Jr., for his firms legal expenses. It also paid for the hiring of a private investigator. (Over the reluctance of Max Warren, and Connerton associate Jules Bernstein.

 

Because both Coia's were warned of the potential legal problems in utilizing New England funds for non- participating laborers (Angelo Fosco etc.,) It became necessary for laborers from various other regions to sign send money to the North American Defense League and sign authorization cards. It also became necessary to amend the trust agreements. Coia Senior scurried around the country and had many of us send money in an attempt to cover up the problem.

 

C. By 1983, with Angelo Fosco and Arthur Coia Senior at each others throat, LIUNA operations became quite difficult. Vice Presidents and Regional Managers were forced to align with one or the other. Coia supporters included Mike Lorello, Ugo Rossini, and Bud Vinall. Fosco supporters included Max Warren, Wilbur Freitag, and Herb Lobell. Bob Connerton and Jim Norwood were with Angelo and openly berated by Coia and Lorello. The national training fund positions were supposed to be evenly divided between Coia and Fosco with Coia having say so over general policy.

 

Warren Anderson became the first national director with Coia appointed assistants John LaConche and Fosco assistants James Warren and Bruce Monaco. Coia wanted the Washington DC based fund and its employees moved to Promfret Connecticut with Jerry Lapore as the site director. The Chicago and New York city LCN had to intervene. Because of Coia being given prior approval of general policy the Promfret site became a reality.

 

During refurbishing of the old monastery which was to become the national site, lack of national funds became a problem. Coia Sr., had Arthur A, Felix Conti and James Merloni Jr. utilize funds from the New England training fund to pay for national fund expenses. (commingling of funds) Coia also told Warren Anderson, James Warren and Bruce Monaco that if they wanted to stay on with the fund they must move their families to Connecticut. Problems ensued, Warren Anderson quit and Bruce Monaco (Angelo's step son went to work for the Chicago district council. Coia told Edward Thorton of Toronto, Ontario that he was going to appoint him as the next Director of training replacing Warren Anderson. Fosco, reacted by having Vince Solano tell Coia that he could run the fund but prior LCN approval was still required prior to hiring decisions. Arthur felt quite embarrassed and had a difficult time telling Thorton that he had to hire someone else. After many disagreements on who was to fill the position James (Mitch) Warren was named as the new Director.

 

D. In an effort to avoid minority problems raised by the outspoken Bob Powell, it was decided to increase the Vice Presidents to 10 with both Coia Sr., and Fosco selecting a person subject to LCN approval. Coia Sr., opted for Vere Haynes a Caribbean born Black American laborer working in one of his locals health and welfare programs. Fosco selected Louis Bravo an Hispanic American laborer from California. Even though both were LCN approved, that didn't stop both from debasing each other. Coia would state that Bravo wasn't black and that Fosco was supposed to select a black man. Fosco would retaliate with the fact that Haynes was West Indian and that the blacks do not consider him as one of there own.

 

E. While preparing for the Laborers convention in 1986 at the Fountenbleu Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. Arthur A. Coia, Dominic Lopeatro, Armondo Sabbitoni, Dan Costello (Mike Lorello's stepson) and I went golfing at the Emerald Hills Country Club in Hollywood Florida. Sheldon Leventhal an account who was a mob associate and connected to the Connecticut family had made contact with Coia Jr., thru his father and with me thru Joe Todaro Sr. He represented Charles Schnier the owner of the club and needed money's to keep the club operating. I explained that the Western New York Building Trades Investment Foundation could not arrange for any pension fund investments outside of the Buffalo area. Coia Jr., stated that James Merloni had screwed up and lost control of the fledging New England Investment fund to the Carpenters. However he felt that he could arrange the financing thru an unnamed fund and that he had a bank in Providence that could handle it. I do not know if he ever went thru with the financing of the Country Club.

 

F. Because of his New York LCN support and his relationship with the Chicago family and Vince Solano, Coia Sr., never doubted that the families would support him with the ongoing Fosco problem. Even after being told by Joseph Todaro Sr., that Chicago would not allow him to take over the President's position, he still believed that when push came to shove that would support him. Arthur Coia Jr., was the very vehicle that would be utilized in creating positions for mob attorney's and the means to avoid costly legal expense to fight Federal government and its attack on organized crime and its captive labor unions. His plan of a national defense fund was already started even though some in the LCN felt it was self serving, his creating of national training sites in New York and New Jersey was appreciated by just an exercise in what they already felt would have been accomplished without his input. I honestly believe that his stroke was a result of his rebuff by the mob over the Fosco debacle.

 

G. After becoming General Secretary Treasurer, Coia Jr., promoted national benefit programs and even though utilizing his law firm to control the national legal programs he increased the role of LCN attorney's in New York city to maintain good relationships. As stated in a previous report, Robert Bogucki acted as the front man for the fund.

After the Federal government investigation of LIUNA became public, the fund developed a different strategy and utilized its cash assets to award grants to those in need of legal assistance. In an effort to avoid potential problems, Massachusetts established its own fund programs in Burlington Massachusetts. Coia Lapore still maintained its representation of Rhode Island Defense fund programs and still represents Local 1033 and the Providence Civil Service employees who are all members of LIUNA.

 

H. Coia Jr's., daughter dated Philip Ottovani the owner of the Union House restaurant and a LIUNA official himself. Because of a falling out between Coia Jr., and Ottovani, the daughter broke off the relationship. The daughter then started dating then married Darren Corrente, the son of Frank Corrente. The younger Corrente is now a Junior partner in the Coia- Lapore law office.

 

I. The Coia-Lapore law offices have received over 1033 and is currently under review by the Rhode Island Bar Association for possible conflict of interest violations. Frank Corrente an employee of the City of Providence and a partner in the Gateway Building Project has already been sited by a Rhode Island Ethics Panel for his role in the 1033 contract and its renting space in the Gateway building. The plan also developed a non interest bearing checking account with the Heritage Loan and Investment Co.(The FBI has linked the defunct bank and its chief official Joseph Mollicone to Raymond Patriarca Jr.) Coia invested $20,000.00 in the building and for that investment received 20% ownership. Capaldi arranged for most of the cash around $350,000.00 and even paid the mortgage thru his company's rental payments. Last fall the building was sold for $2,150,000.00 to the 410 South Main Street Title Holding Company which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rhode Island Public Service Employees Legal Service Plan.

 

J. In 1986, Philip Schwab was entered a plea bargain arrangement with the Justice Department after he bribed Howard Stecker an official with the Environmental Protection Agency. He is currently operating union-non union operations in the New England area under the name of Cuywreco Corp., a demolition company fronted by his son Mark and Phoenix Wrecking. Cuywreco is currently under investigation by the FBI in Gary, Indiana.

 

Available Witnesses:

 

8 names removed


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