John Nicolo, 75, his wife Constance Roeder, 65, and David Finnman, 61, were sentenced for their roles in a property fraud scheme. On May 20, 2008, after a ten-week trial, a jury convicted Nicolo and Finnman with defrauding Eastman Kodak Company, IBM, Global Crossing, ITT Industries, Inc., and the taxpayers of Greece, New York, in connection with several real property tax appraisal and assessment schemes. Nicolo and Roeder were also convicted of numerous tax fraud counts. Nicolo was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Roeder was sentenced to probation and Finnman was sentenced to 21 months in prison by David G. Larimer, U.S. District Court Judge, Western District of New York.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard A. Resnick, who tried the case, stated that Nicolo was convicted of three conspiracy charges, nine (9) mail fraud counts, eight (8) wire fraud counts, and twenty (21) money laundering counts while Finnman was convicted of one conspiracy count, two mail fraud counts and two money laundering counts. The charges stem from various schemes in which Finnman, and later Mark Camarata, while working at Kodak, would hire Nicolo, a real property appraiser, to perform real property appraisal services for Kodak in connection with many Kodak properties during the years 1997 through 2005. In return for hiring Nicolo, Finnman would receive money representing kickbacks from Nicolo. In addition to the kickbacks received by Finnman, the trial established that the Greece Town Assessor also received payments from Nicolo in connection with various property tax assessment matters involving property located in Greece, New York.
While there were several schemes proven at trial, the largest scheme involved the Town Assessor accepting bribes in return for reducing the real property tax assessment for Kodak property located in Greece. Kodak had property located in Greece known as Kodak Park. Based on the reductions the Town Assessor made to Kodak Park’s real property tax assessment, Nicolo calculated the tax savings to Kodak over a fifteen- year period to be $31,527,168. They also calculated Nicolo‘s fee from Kodak to be $7,881,798.00, which was 25 percent of Kodak’s projected tax savings.
Additionally, Nicolo and Roeder were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. Nicolo was convicted of nine (9) counts of filing or aiding and abetting the filing of false income tax returns. Roeder was convicted of five (5) counts of filing false income tax returns.
The indictment also contained forfeiture allegations against Nicolo and Finnman. The government seized over twelve million dollars in assets during the investigation. The Honorable David G. Larimer has issued a preliminary order of forfeiture regarding the seized assets, and additionally imposed a forfeiture money judgment against Nicolo in the amount of $9.7 Million and against Finnman in the amount of $140,000.
The investigation was a joint investigation on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Laurie J. Bennett; the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Ronald Walker; the Internal Revenue Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patricia J. Haynes, Criminal Investigation Division; and the Greece Police Department, under the direction of Chief Merritt Rahn. The case was tried by Assistant United States Attorneys Richard A. Resnick and Frank H. Sherman.