ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Lawfuel)– After a ten-week trial, a jury convicted John Nicolo and his wife, Constance Roeder, of Penn Yan, N.Y., and David Finnman, formerly of Rochester, N.Y., and now of Mesa, Ariz., on more than 50 counts including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering for their part in a multi-million dollar public corruption scheme, announced U.S. Attorney Terrance P. Flynn of the Western District of New York.
Nicolo was convicted on four conspiracy charges, nine counts of mail fraud, eight counts of wire fraud and 20 counts of money laundering. Finnman was convicted on one count of conspiracy, two counts of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering. These charges stem from various schemes in which Finnman and Mark Camarata, while working at Eastman Kodak Co., hired Nicolo, a real property appraiser, to perform appraisals for Kodak between 1997 and 2005. In return for hiring Nicolo, Finnman and Camarata received financial kickbacks from Nicolo.
Additionally, Charles Schwab, then the Greece, N.Y., town assessor, also received payments from Nicolo in connection with various property tax assessment matters involving property located in Greece.
The largest of these schemes involved Schwab accepting bribes in return for reducing the real property tax assessment for Kodak property located in Greece, known as Kodak Park. In early 2002, Camarata, Nicolo and Schwab agreed to reduce the assessment of that property in return for a large amount of money fraudulently obtained from Kodak.
Based on the reductions Schwab made to Kodak Park’s real property tax assessment, Nicolo and Camarata calculated the tax savings to Kodak of $31,527,168 over a fifteen year period. They also calculated that Nicolo’s fee from Kodak would be $7,881,798.00, which was 25 percent of Kodak’s projected tax savings.
Prior to the uncovering of the scheme in April 2005, Kodak paid Nicolo $4,161,220. From this amount, Nicolo paid Camarata $1,553,300 for his role in hiring Nicolo, and $1,052,100 to Schwab for his role in reducing Kodak Park’s real property tax assessment.
Prior to trial, Schwab pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of honest services mail fraud. Camarata, of Perinton, N.Y., pleaded guilty to a two-count felony information charged conspiracy to commit extortion, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine, and money laundering, carrying a maximum possible sentence of a term of imprisonment of 10 years and/or a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transactions. Camarata and Schwab await sentencing.
In addition, Nicolo and Roeder were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. Nicolo was convicted of nine counts of filing or aiding and abetting the filing of false income tax returns, with each count carrying a maximum sentence of three years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. Roeder was also convicted of five counts of filing false income tax returns.
The tax conspiracy charges stemmed from a scheme in which Nicolo transferred large amounts of money to Roeder under the guise that Roeder had worked for Nicolo and that Nicolo had rented office space from Roeder. To further reduce his tax liabilities, Nicolo deducted additional false and inflated business expenses on his tax returns, and he also aided Roeder in deducting business expenses on her tax returns to which she was not entitled. In total, Nicolo was alleged to have diverted $3,164,286 to Roeder between 1998 and 2005.
The government seized more than $12 million in assets during the investigation. Forfeiture charges against Nicolo and Finnman will be determined by the Honorable David G. Larimer, U.S. District Court Judge, Western District of New York.
This case was a joint investigation conducted by the FBI, under the direction of Laurie J. Bennett; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Ronald Walker; the IRS, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Anne Marie Coons, Criminal Investigation Division; and the Greece Police Department, under the direction of Chief Merritt Rahn. The case was tried by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard A. Resnick and Frank H. Sherman.