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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Copar Quarries: Meet the New Neighbors, Part Six

So with a track record like theirs, where did they get the money to expand into Rhode Island?
By Will Collette

As I've done the digging into the backgrounds of the Connecticut-based Copar Quarries and their top executives, one of the biggest puzzles was how a company with its history of not paying its bills and executives who not only have a history of not paying their bills, but also being busted for stealing from people, raise the money to expand into Rhode Island?

How did they raise the cash to get two quarries right in our area (in Bradford on the town line with Westerly and right on Route 91) along with their fleet of shiny purple trucks plus all that mining equipment?

Their CEO Sam Cocopard has been busted for thirty financial crimes, convicted of most of them and is currently serving a suspended sentence for stealing $20,000 from Rhode Island’s top trash hauler, Joe Vinagro. When he was sentenced to stealing $40,000 from one of his own workers and two local businesses in 1994, the judge called him a “con man” who “belongs in jail.” He was convicted against just last January for stealing $20,000 from Rhode Island trash hauler Joe Vinagro.


The judge in the 1994 case ordered  Cocopard’s lawyers to prepare a letter that Cocopard was required to show to anyone he asked for a loan that detailed all his financial crimes.

In 1999, Cocopard was convicted again, this time for stealing $5,000 from a local woman in Middletown, CT on a phony investment scheme.

How did Cocopard go from being a career criminal – although, with his January 2013 conviction, you could rightly say he is still a criminal – to running a string of high-overhead operations in Connecticut and Rhode Island?

I found part of the answer by combing the public records for Uniform Commercial Code filings of “secured transactions.” These are records filed with a state Secretary of State to show that a borrower (debtor) owes a debt to a lender (creditor) and that the debt is secured by some sort of collateral.

Even though I found that Copar and CEO Sam Cocopard had racked up 29 civil judgments from past creditors, plus six tax liens and eight bankruptcy filings – not to mention the letter Judge Miano ordered Cocopard to show to future creditors about his crimes as part of his 1994 larceny sentence, Cocopard still racked up an impressive list of loans for his various enterprises. NOTE: these are only current loans, not earlier ones that have since expired.

Date
Lender
Borrower
Collateral
UCC File #
11/18/2010
Samuel F. Cocopard
Copar Quarries of Westerly
None specified
201009260190
11/18/2010
Perry W. Delalio
Copar Quarries of Westerly
None specified
201009260280
02/22/2011
Phil Armetta
Copar Industries
Vehicles
2799553
03/30/2011
Phil Armetta
Copar Industries, DBA Copar Trucking
Vehicles
2806450
04/13/2011
Phil Armetta
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Unspecified
201109778270
09/26/2011
Komatsu Financial L.P.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Equipment
201110358540
12/05/2011
All Points Capital Corp
Copar Industries
Equipment
2848463
12/08/2011
Phil Armetta
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Amendment to 201109778270. Collateral still unspecified
201110618220
01/05/2012
All Points Capital Corp
Copar Industries
Machinery, equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, chattel paper, negotiable instruments, contract rights, general intangibles, fixtures
2853740
01/30/2012
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Industries
Accounts and proceeds, accounts receivable and proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & paper, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, vehicles & proceeds
2857043
01/30/2012
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Industries
Accounts and proceeds, accounts receivable and proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & paper, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, vehicles & proceeds
2857045
01/30/2012
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Accounts & proceeds, accounts receivable & proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & proceeds, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, inventory & proceeds, computer equipment & proceeds
2857044
02/01/2012
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Accounts & proceeds, accounts receivable & proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & proceeds, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, inventory & proceeds, computer equipment & proceeds
201210816120
04/25/2012
Signature Financial
Copar Industries
Equipment, vehicles
2872551
07/11/2012
Railroad Resources Inc.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Agreement (details not specified)
2886781
07/31/2012
Signature National Bank
Copar Industries
Equipment
2889367
09/05/2012
Komatsu Financial L.P.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Equipment & proceeds, computer equipment & proceeds
201211571460
09/10/2012
Komatsu Financial L.P.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Equipment, computer equipment
2895704
09/26/2012
Perry W. Delalio
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Amendment to 201009260280, still no collateral specified
201211637850
12/28/2012
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Industries, DBA Copar Trucking
Accounts and proceeds, accounts receivable and proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & paper, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, vehicles & proceeds
2912882
12/31/2012
Komatsu Financial L.P.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Equipment
2913774
12/31/2012
Komatsu Financial L.P.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Equipment & proceeds
201212026130
01/18/2013
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Industries, DBA Copar Quarries of Lisbon
Accounts and proceeds, accounts receivable and proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & paper, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, vehicles & proceeds
2916434
01/18/2013
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Industries, DBA Copar Quarries of Lisbon
Accounts & proceeds, accounts receivable & proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & proceeds, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, inventory & proceeds, computer equipment & proceeds
2916440
01/29/2013
Phil Armetta
Copar Industries DBA Copar Trucking
None specified. Related filing: 2806450 (3/30/2011)
2917942
01/31/2013
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Industries DBA Copar Trucking
Accounts & proceeds, accounts receivable & proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & proceeds, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, inventory & proceeds, computer equipment & proceeds
2918267
04/08/2013
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Industries DBA Copar Trucking
Accounts & proceeds, accounts receivable & proceeds, chattel paper & proceeds, contract rights & proceeds, equipment & proceeds, fixtures & proceeds, general intangibles & proceeds, inventory & proceeds, computer equipment & proceeds
2928957
05/01/2013
Komatsu Financial L.P.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Unspecified
201312462360
05/06/2013
Komatsu Financial L.P.
Copar Quarries of Westerly
Leased equipment and vehicles
2935927
06/03/2013
Commercial Credit Corp.
Copar Industries DBA Copar Trucking
Not specified
2941233
06/29/2013
Sterling National Bank
Copar Industries
None specified
2942536

I’ve looked at the UCC filings of many dozens of companies, particularly companies in the construction business like Copar. What I look to see is how heavily leveraged a company is. I can tell you based on my past experience that Copar is heavily leveraged.

Hard to imagine how Copar could exist without the backing
of a good fellow like Phil Armetta (photo courtesy of
Stephen Devoto and the Middletown Eye)
That, of course, makes a lot of sense since Sam Cocopard himself has very few tangible assets, given all the past bankruptcy filings, civil judgments and criminal convictions. Cocopard also owes money to the victims of his past crimes when he was ordered to pay restitution as part of his sentence.

The first three UCC filings are for Sam Cocopard himself (so he can take his money out when Copar collapses), a Perry W. Delalio of Southampton, NY, owner of South Fork Asphalt, and Copar money guy and Connecticut’s Trash Titan Phil Armetta.

While Cocopard and Delalio don’t specify what collateral covers their money, Phil Armetta’s loan is backed up by Copar’s vehicles.

Many of the other companies (e.g. Komatsu, Railroad Resources) are loaning Copar money for vehicles and equipment they are selling to Copar. Like GMAC, they can take those vehicles and equipment back if the loan goes bad. However, their claims might conflict with Phil Armetta who lays claim to an unspecified number of vehicles.

Signature Financial and All Points Capital, are also lending Copar money to buy vehicles and equipment and list such items as collateral. Although, again, I think Phil Armetta would consider himself first in line to collect.

Other lenders, such as Commercial Credit and Sterling National Bank, seem to be providing Copar with general credit – perhaps even lines of credit – and they also hold equipment, as well as everything else Copar has including future sales, as collateral on their loans.

Armetta used to run lots of Connecticut waste sites. After doing federal jail
time, Armetta now invests in them. Here's the Kleen Energy "recycling" site
built in a quarry in Middletown CT after it blew up, killing six workers.
Armetta ended up being the only person to make money from the deal.
If you look at the list of outstanding loans and look at the column listing the collateral, you’ll see there seems to be a lot of overlap. Some of that is due to the loans being issued for a specific site (e.g. Lisbon CT, or Westerly) or specific Copar subsidiary (e.g. Copar Trucking, Copar Quarries of Westerly). 

But even taking that into account, there does seem to be some unexplained overlap where it appears as if the same collateral is being used more than once.

None of these current lenders appears on the list of past lenders who have sued Copar and won civil judgments for unpaid bills. These are detailed in Part Five.

As I wrote in “Meet the New Neighbors, Part 4.5,” Cocopard, who was then going by “Cocopardi,” narrowly escaped prison time for larceny, multiple counts, because his mother-in-law loaned him $40,000 to pay back his victims, on the condition that the judge imposed no jail time.

Outraged Judge Miano agreed to those terms only for the benefit of those victims, but excoriated Cocopard/Cocopardi as a crook who deserved jail time. As I noted earlier. Judge Miano also ordered Cocopardi’s lawyers to prepare a letter detailing his crimes and ordered Cocopard to show this letter to anyone he approaches to borrow money.

I could find no public record showing that Cocopard/Cocopardi paid his mother-in-law back before she died nor any indication that Cocopard is still showing that letter with his long criminal rap sheet.

Perhaps in preparation for his next financial collapse, Cocopard transferred the deed to his home at 19 Spring Street, Chester, CT into the name of a new company he started called SFCLAT Props LLC. That transaction was recorded on October 17, 2011. SFCLAT was incorporated four days earlier on October 13, with Sam Cocopard as its only member and principal.

If you are thinking that none of this smells right, welcome to the club. As I said, I’ve looked at company UCC filings a lot in the past and this makes no sense.

Support local resistance to Copar. Click here for
CCBC's website.
Copar was created out of thin air by a guy, Sam Cocopard, with a long rap sheet for fraud, larceny, bad checks, bad debts and failed businesses.

His top associates all have sordid histories, too. Two of them – Randy Roberge and Daniel Thibodeau - were responsible for spectacular business collapses. Roberge and Thibodeau are currently acting as Copar’s Chief Financial Officer and company Controller, respectively.

With all this information readily available to anyone who knows how to do due diligence, why have so many lenders lent so much to Copar? Is there something magical about this particular business model that builds confidence that Sam Cocopard will make this business a success despite his lifetime of crime and failure?

Maybe the idea of creating holes in the ground and having a guy like Phil Armetta who is skilled at taking old quarries and using them for waste disposal sites as lead partner is the answer.

Past Installments of Copar Quarries: Meet the New Neighbors

Click here for Part One on Phil Armetta, one of Connecticut’s top trash guys and Copar’s money man.

Click here for Part Two on Randy Roberge, Copar’s “resident agent” who doesn’t actually reside here, a guy who was deemed unfit by the state of Connecticut to be a mortgage banker, so now he’s Copar’s Chief Financial Officer.

Click here for Part Three on Daniel Thibodeau, Copar’s company Controller, a guy who was prosecuted by the state of Connecticut for defrauding his clients.

Click here for Part Four, the original piece on Copar CEO Sam Cocopard, with detail on his two dozen busts for financial crimes, including his most recent guilty verdict last January for stealing $20,000 from Joe Vinagro, RI’s trash titan.

Click here for Part 4.5 that adds some remarkable archival material found on Sam Cocopard’s spectacular crimes in 1994.

Click here for Part Five which details Copar’s incredible record Connecticut – tax liens and being on the losing end of a large number of civil judgments.

Click here for ALL previous coverage of Copar.