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Friday, July 19, 2013

Meet the new neighbors, Copar Quarries, Part 5

Copar’s Connecticut Track Record, and what a record it is!
By Will Collette
The new Copar operation in Charlestown. Note how close its operations
are to the Pawcatuck River

Copar Industries of Connecticut now owns two quarrying operations nearby, one in Bradford on Route 216 and the other in Charlestown on Route 91

The Bradford site has been a complete headache for its neighbors in Westerly and Charlestown for months, subject of dozens of federal, state and local citations for violations of environmental, safety and zoning laws, and citizen complaints and lawsuits.

The Charlestown site hasn’t caused trouble yet, but it started out by operating without a license for three months. Even though town officials knew Copar was there, operating without a license, and even though the town has officially chastised Copar for its misconduct in Bradford, Charlestown did nothing to stop Copar from expanding into Charlestown.


This 2012 close-up of the Charlestown operation, before Copar took over,
shows the mine at about 80 feet from the Pawcatuck River. 
Copar 
was busted at its Bradford site for wetlands violations. 
But hey, what could go wrong here?
In Parts 1 through 4, I introduced you to the four main corporate players at Copar. There’s CEO Sam Cocopard who has been busted for almost thirty financial crimes and was convicted of most of the charges. He’s currently on a suspended sentence for robbing Rhode Island’s major waste hauler Joe Vinagro of $20,000.

There’s money guy Phil Armetta, one of Connecticut’s top trash haulers, who served federal prison time. 

Phil Armetta - Copar's money guy. Photo courtesy
of Stephen Devoto, Middletown (CT) Eye News.

He specializes in putting waste sites in old quarries
There’s Chief Financial Officer Randy Roberge who was banned from the mortgage banking business by the Connecticut Banking Commissioner for leading one of the major subprime mortgage companies into bankruptcy and contributing to America’s financial collapse. 

There’s corporate Controller Daniel Thibodeau who was prosecuted by the state of Connecticut for defrauding dozens of his clients.

Maybe you’re asking yourself – as I certainly asked myself – how does a crew like this, who behave so badly in Rhode Island, behave in their own backyard? Do they draw as much heat as they have since they set up shop here?

Maybe you’re asking yourself – as I certainly asked myself – how does a crew like this accumulate the capital to operate a multi-state string of quarries and waste sites, plus operate a big, beautiful fleet of at least 30 trucks and sophisticated mining equipment?

Maybe you’re asking yourself – as I certainly asked myself – if there’s anyone in Rhode Island – in the Westerly or Charlestown Town Governments or any of the state agencies who regulate companies like Copar, that did any due diligence on them before giving them permits?

Copar’s Connecticut Track Record

I ran a Westlaw database search on Copar’s legal issues in Connecticut. I got so many hits that I had to break the data down into subcategories to make it possible to digest them. I created files for Copar lawsuits, civil judgments and tax liens against Copar and Copar's borrowing.

The files show that Copar and all its subsidiaries are sued often by a very interesting and diverse array of companies and people. More significantly, when I looked at the judgments and liens, it was also clear to me that Copar frequently loses, as courts across Connecticut have ruled in favor of people suing Copar and CEO Sam Cocopard.

I’ve spent most of my forty years researching companies and investigating their track records. I know Copar’s industry well enough to know what’s unusual and what is not. 

Based on my professional experience, I can say that based on the Westlaw records, Copar spends an unusually large amount of its time defending itself in court. They also lose a lot more often than I would expect to see.

Let’s look at the detail. Again, because of the amount of material, I am going to need two articles to cover it. In this article, I’ll show you what I found in the court records on Copar’s record in Connecticut. In the next article, we’ll take a close look at who is financing Copar’s adventures, both here in Rhode Island and in their home base in Connecticut.

Six tax liens, eight bankruptcies, 29 civil judgments – other than that, it’s all good


Here is a table that shows civil judgments and tax liens against Copar. These are settled cases: each of the 29 judgments I found represents the findings of a court that Copar and or Sam or Nancy Cocopard owed the creditor money and is ordered to pay. The six tax liens speak for themselves. Also note the frequent number of individual and corporate bankruptcies – I found eight.

Cocopard was also ordered to make restitution after each of his larceny convictions. He has been ordered to re-pay the $20,000 he was convicted in January of stealing from Rhode Island waste hauler Joe Vinagro.

And again, you have to wonder: with this record, how do they stay in business?

Tax Liens, Civil Judgments and Bankruptcies
(Sam Cocopard and Nancy Cocopardi are often named individually as a co-debtors)

Date
Creditor
Debtor
Amount
NOTES
06/01/93
Hesco Inc
Sam Cocopardi[1]
$658

04/20/95
Bankruptcy, Chap. 7
Sam Cocopardi


10/04/99
Bankruptcy, Chap. 13
Sam Cocopardi


12/17/99
Bankruptcy, Chap. 13
Sam Cocopardi


09/06/00
Bankruptcy, Chap. 13
Sam Cocopardi


03/07/03
State of Connecticut
Copar Construction
$1,149
State tax lien
03/18/03
Charles A. Regulbuto
Sam Cocopard
$1,232

06/06/03
IRS
Nancy Cocopardi
$36,797
Federal tax lien, released 5/24/04
06/09/03
Bankruptcy, Chap. 13
Nancy Cocopardi


06/24/03
Tyler Equipment
Copar Construction
n/a

06/26/03
Town of Chester
Nancy Cocopardi
$1,940
Town Tax lien
07/15/03
Bankruptcy, Chap. 7
Cocopardi Equipment


10/06/03
Keystone Equipment
Nancy Cocopardi
n/a

10/17/03
Journal-Inquirer
Copar Construction
$265
Newspaper
10/29/03
Reliable Oil LLC
Copar Construction
$1568
Names Nancy Cocopardi
11/03/03
Fleet Nat’l Bank
Copar Construction
n/a

11/18/03
Michael Donnelly Falcon’s Cry Fund
Copar Corporation
$1,621
Charity for scholarships founded by disabled (now deceased) Iraq War hero
12/05/03
B. Gluck Trucking
Copar Construction
n/a

12/15/03
Bankruptcy
Nancy Cocopardi


04/14/04
Day Publishing
Copar Construction
$3,451
Newspaper
10/18/04
MRC Receivables
Sam Cocopard
$2,971

05/11/05
IRS
Nancy Cocopardi
$5,450
Federal tax lien
07/14/05
B. Gluck Trucking
Copar Construction
$2,393

07/14/05
Anchor Engineering
Copar Construction
$2,393

07/29/05
Marvin Morgenbesser
Copar Construction
n/a

11/21/05
Fuss & O’Neill
Copar Earth Products
$2.391

01/23/06
IRS
Copar Earth Products
$507
Federal tax lien
02/02/06
Day Publishing
Copar Earth Products
$3,502
newspaper
07/18/06
Central Auto & Transport
Copar Earth Products
$4,109

10/19/06
Manchester Medical Supply
Copar Earth Products
n/a

11/20/06
IRS
Copar Earth Products
$64
Federal tax lien
03/09/06
United Rentals
Copar Construction
$1,207

07/17/06
Erin Capital Management
Copar Construction
$730
They buy other companies’ bad debts and then go after the debtor
08/18/06
Julie Brink
Copar Construction
n/a

10/25/06
JME Enterprises
Copar Construction
n/a

02/27/07
WI Clark Co.
Copar Construction
n/a

06/09/09
DiCesare Bentley Engineers
Sam Cocopard
$5,035

11/06/09
Robert Half Int’l
Copar Corporation
n/a
Temp agency
06/08/10
Capital One Bank
Sam Cocopard
$670

02/11/10
Matthew Donovan
Copar Corporation
n/a

08/27/10
Portfolio Recovery Associates
Samuel Cocopard
$7,167

6/27/12
Cavalry SPV I
Samuel Cocopard
$1,271


I noted the three instances where Copar stiffed a local newspaper. It’s not very often that I see companies with controversial track records like Copar stiff a newspaper since that doesn’t help the company very much when it has public relations problems. 
Copar's ad in the Westerly Sun. They
took this ad out BEFORE they had a
Charlestown business license

Copar took out ads recently in the Westerly Sun (right). I am eagerly waiting to see whether the Sun joins the list of newspapers taking Copar to court as a deadbeat.

All of these civil judgments, tax liens and bankruptcies cast a serious cloud over Sam Cocopard and his business dealings. 

When you also add in his life of crime, busted on almost thirty different financial crimes and currently serving a suspended sentence for robbing Joe Vinagro of $20,000, it makes you wonder how Cocopard has been able to put together the capital to launch and even expand the Copar empire.

After all, the information I’ve used in this series of articles are all public records available to any researcher who knows how to do due diligence.

In the next article, we’ll take a close look at whose money is bankrolling Sam Cocopard and the Copar enterprises.

FOOTNOTE


[1] Sam Cocopard and his wife Nancy used to routinely go by the name “Cocopardi.” I did not find a legal record indicating a formal change of name, but in recent years, the “I” at the end of his name disappeared. 

Many of their businesses are in Nancy’s name. Others are in Sam’s. It is also unclear whether they are still married. Nancy filed for divorce on March 28, 2005, but that petition was withdrawn on March 23, 2006. I found no subsequent Family Court filings