-- 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
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
"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.