September 25, 1981
A high-ranking official of the Laborers International
Union has been indicted in Miami along with four other men, including
the reputed organized crime boss of New England, on a federal
racketeering charge. They are accused of receiving more than $250,000
in kickbacks from insurance companies set up to disguise their
alleged looting of union insurance premiums.
The indictment of Arthur E. Coia of Providence,
R.I., secretary-treasurer of the 627,000-member laborers union,
and Raymond L.S. Patriarca, the reputed Mafia chief from Providence,
forms the latest charge in what authorities have described as
a multimillion-dollar scheme to set up insurance companies to
funnel payoffs to top union officials and others.
A federal grand jury in Miami returned the
one-count indictment against Coia and the others Wednesday.
In announcing the indictment yesterday, Atlee
W. Wampler III, the U.S. attorney in Miami, said Patriarca told
a government witness in 1976 that the insurance business of the
laborers union "would be controlled by 'the family,' "a
reference to the Mafia.
Wampler quoted Patriarca as saying the country
would be divided into territories with Patriarca controlling the
union's northeast insurance business, and two other reputed organized-crime
bosses, Santo Trafficante of Tampa, and Anthony (Joe Batters)
Accardo of Chicago, controlling the South and Midwest, respectively.
Last June, the president of the laborers
union, Angelo Fosco, 60, of Chicago, plus Trafficante, Accardo
and 13 others were indicted in Miami on similar charges involving
$2 million in alleged kickbacks from union insurance funds.
Fosco and Coia were reelected to their posts
at the union's national convention last week in Hollywood, Fla.
Union officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A major government witness in the investigation
is Joseph Hauser, a convicted insurance swindler. According to
the Miami indictment, the scheme, which lasted from late 1973
through 1977, called for Hauser to set up an insurance company
to handle the insurance business of laborers union locals, but
the primary aim was to funnel payoffs to Hauser, Coia, Patriarca
and others involved in the scheme.
In 1974, the indictment says, Coia and Hauser
met with Patriarca to discuss ways to channel insurance kickbacks
to Patriarca through another union official.
The indictment also alleges that Coia, whose
union salary was $106,000 last year, used his influence to steer
union insurance business to Hauser's companies and provided Hauser
with inside union information that helped him win union insurance
In return, according to the indictment, Hauser
made $5,000 payments to Coia totaling more than $100,000.