John Nicolo, David Finnman and Constance Roeder were convicted after a week of deliberations.

Colleen M. Farrell

A real-estate appraiser and a former tax executive at Eastman Kodak Co. were convicted of all charges Tuesday in a multimillion-dollar kickback conspiracy.

Former Eastman Kodak Co. tax accountant David Finnman, appraiser John Nicolo and his wife, Constance Roeder, were convicted after a week of deliberations.

The scheme, which started around 1992, included bribing a town official, illegal tax write-offs and fraud committed by two workers at one of Rochester’s biggest companies, according to the government.

But the defense attorneys for Finnman, Nicolo and Roeder have maintained that their clients did nothing illegal and that the prosecution didn't do a thorough job in building its case.

The jury began deliberating last Tuesday. The trial started March 10.

The government maintains Nicolo, a former tax appraiser from Yates County, conspired with former Greece town assessor Charles Schwab and former Kodak tax accountants Mark Camarata and Finnman to scam area companies, including Kodak.

According to the government, Schwab would raise assessments of Kodak property so that Finnman and, later, his replacement, Camarata, would have the imaging company hire Nicolo to negotiate a lower assessment.

The prosecution contends Nicolo would split his earnings, which tallied in the millions, with Schwab, Finnman and Camarata as part of the kickback scheme. IBM, Rochester Gas & Electric, Global Crossing and ITT Industries, and the towns of Gates, Greece and Henrietta also were affected by the scheme, according to the prosecution.

Nicolo and Roeder, his wife, are on trial together on charges they allegedly filed false returns and took deductions they weren’t entitled to.

The defense said Nicolo has been in poor health and legitimately paid his wife, Finnman and Schwab for their help with his appraisal business. But the prosecution contends that no work was actually done, that some invoices for office equipment were phony and that receipts and checks showing payments going from Nicolo to the other defendants and Schwab and Camarata were really kickbacks.

Nicolo was taken into custody after the verdict was read because he’s a possible flight risk. Finnman and Roeder are free on bail until sentencing, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. and 10 a.m. Aug. 28, respectively.

Nicolo is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. Aug. 27 while Schwab could be sentenced at 10 a.m. June 27. Sentencing has not been scheduled yet for Camarata.

Greece Supervisor John Auberger said the verdict ended a long and difficult time for the community. He’s confident “that the interests of our taxpayers have been protected,” he said.

“The guilty verdict ensures that those who violated the public trust will be punished for their actions,” he said. “The actions of these few individuals should, in no way, reflect upon the hard work and dedication of public employees who are committed to government service.”

Camarata, who pleaded guilty, is facing up to 20 years in prison and a fine of between $20,000 and $200,000. Schwab pleaded guilty in March and faces 19 to 24 years in jail and a fine ranging from $25,000 to $250,000.