Providence Journal

Former Union Chief Coia Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion

By Ken Mingis staff writer

Updated 1.31.00 / 4:31 p.m.

BOSTON - As expected, Arthur A. Coia, the powerful national labor leader from Rhode Island who became a key political fundraiser for President Clinton, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to tax evasion.

The recently retired president of the Laborers' International Union of North America had signed a plea agreement last week in which he admitted defrauding Rhode Island taxpayers of nearly $100,000.

Coia, 56, of 20 Payne Rd., Barrington, was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay restitution, which he did today.

Prosecutors had charged that Coia schemed with long-time friend Carmine Carcieri, owner of Viking Cadillac in Middletown, to defraud the state of taxes owed on the purchase of three Ferraris, ranging in price from $215,000 to $1 million.

Coia agreed to plead guilty to a single felony fraud charge, and to pay a $10,000 fine and about $100,000 in restitution for unpaid car taxes from 1991 to 1997.

The deal means Coia will do no prison time and allows him to keep his $250,000-plus annual lifetime pay as the Laborers' "general president emeritus" - a post created for him by union leaders following his retirement.

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