U.S. Justice Department of Justice
Criminal Division
Washington,DC 20530

FEB 28, 2000

Alex Corns, Business Manager
Hod Carriers Local 36
6229-A Mission Street
Daly City, California 94014

Dear Mr. Corns:

Your letter of January 25, 2000, has been referred to this office for response. We apologize for our delay in responding to your earlier inquiries regarding the resignation of Arthur A. Coia as General President of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA)

You have complained about the appointment of Mr. Coia as General President Emeritus of LIUNA and the payment to him of a substantial sum of money in connection with his appointment to that position. In particular, you have asserted that the appointment of Mr. Coia to the position of General President Emeritus of LIUNA and the payment for this position is not authorized by the LIUNA Constitutions.

While you are correct that there is no specific mention of such an office in the LIUNA Constitutions, there is a constitutional basis to make such a continuous payment for past services in Article VIII, Section 2(h) of the LIUNA International Union Constitution. Moreover, similar payments have been made in the past. For example, Joseph Moreschi was General President Emeritus of LIUNA and paid a salary for a period following his retirement before his death in the early 1970's; Arthur E. Coia was General Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus of LIUNA and paid a salary from the time of his resignation from the position of General Secretary-Treasurer in 1989 until his death in 1993; and Rollin P. Vinall was paid as General Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus of LIUNA for a brief period following his retirement until his death last year.

Since there is a basis in the Constitution for the payment, there is precedent for the practice, and the payment was duly authorized by the General Executive Board, it is apparent that when these factors are coupled with the wide discretion the law affords governing bodies of labor unions, the General Executive Board had


the authority to provide for the payment to Mr. Coia. Therefore, there is no legal basis on which we could have taken action to prevent the Union from making this payment to Mr. Coia.

Furthermore, a substantial portion of the payments to Mr. Coia represents the payment of benefits from his pension plan. Despite Mr. Coia's guilty plea to mail fraud violations entered in the United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts on February 1, 2000 and his resignation from the Union, the pension payment cannot be taken from him pursuant to Section 206(d) of the Employees Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C.  1056(d). In addition, it is important to note, that LIUNA has agreed that the payment for the General President Emeritus position will not be increased during the remainder of Mr. Coia's lifetime.

Finally, you should be aware that the guilty plea agreement filed in the United States District Court in Boston, bars Mr. Coia from participating in any manner in the affairs of LIUNA for the remainder of his life and bars him from receiving any payment from LIUNA, other than his pension and General President Emeritus pay, either directly or indirectly. Since his conviction is for an offense not mentioned in Section 504 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C.  504, it is only through this guilty plea agreement that Mr. Coia could have been removed from his participation in Union affairs.

I hope this letter answers your concerns and your questions regarding the disposition of the government's case against Arthur A. Coia


Bruce G. Ohr, Chief
Organized Crime and
Racketeering Section

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