By DALE P. FAULKNER
Sun Staff Writer
WESTERLY — In what a company lawyer says is an effort to move away from its rocky past, the Copar quarry company, along with its affiliates in both Rhode Island and Connecticut, is changing its name.
“It’s a rebranding. The company would like to move beyond the Copar taint,” said Jeffrey Gladstone, Copar’s lawyer, referring to the name change that has already taken place in Connecticut.
In Connecticut, the company formerly known as Copar Industries is now called Armetta LLC. Gladstone, during an interview this week, said Copar’s Rhode Island affiliates would soon have their names changed as well.
Copar Quarries of Westerly has endured a continuous barrage of criticisms, lawsuits, zoning battles, and regulatory problems since August 2011 when two Bradford residents complained to the Westerly Town Council, saying the company was allowing stone dust to drift off the Church Street property it leases from the Comolli family’s Westerly Granite Co. Inc. and onto their homes. The residents also complained of excessive noise from the quarry operation.
Gladstone has acknowledged financial problems that he attributes to poor management that has since been replaced, but the company has steadfastly denied violating local, state, or federal regulations pertaining to air quality and noise.
The name change follows the ouster of Copar’s namesake, Sam Cocopard. The company’s former president and chief operating officer was discharged from the company in early March after Philip Armetta, a Middletown, Conn., businessman, gained control of the company.
The company’s new name reflects Armetta’s new role in the company. He had previously held a less controlling ownership interest and companies related to him had financially backed some of Copar’s business dealings.
Cocopard said Friday that he continues to hold a 38.9 percent ownership interest in the company and is involved in negotiations with Armetta’s lawyer to sell his share of the company.
Informed of Gladstone’s comment regarding “the taint of Copar,” Cocopard said Gladstone was retaliating for a letter Cocopard wrote to the principals of Gladstone’s law firm. In the letter, Cocopard is critical of Gladstone’s legal work on behalf of the company.
The firm’s purple trucks, which bear the name Copar Quarries along with the company’s slogan “hard working stone,” will soon be repainted to reflect the name change to Armetta LLC, Gladstone said.
Armetta and Cocopard have each encountered problems with the law. Armetta, the former owner of Dainty Rubbish, headquartered in Middletown, Conn., pleaded guilty in 2007 to a single charge of concealing knowledge of a felony following a federal investigation of Connecticut trash haulers. He was sentenced to three months in prison and three months of home confinement.
Cocopard pleaded no contest in January 2013 to a charge of fourth-degree larceny. He was accused of accepting $20,000 for gravel that he never delivered to a customer.
He was ordered to repay the customer and given a one-year suspended prison sentence and placed on probation for 18 months. A charge of fourth-degree larceny in 1999 resulted in a one-year suspended jail sentence and two years probation for Cocopard.