In early 2008, a married couple and two Eastman Kodak executives were convicted of several crimes related to a fraudulent business operation conducted in Western New York. John Nicolo, his wife Constance Roeder, and tax executives Mark Camarata and David Finnman were all found guilty of charges including mail fraud, conspiracy, tax evasion, and money laundering. Charles Schwab, a town assessor, was also believed to be part of the illegal activity.
According to the prosecution, Schwab would give unreasonably high property assessments to property being purchased by Kodak. Finnman and Camarata would then hire John Nicolo to negotiate a lower assessment in an effort to save Kodak money. Millions of dollars were paid by Kodak to Nicolo for his services. Nicolo would then share the earnings with Schwab, Camarata, and Finnman. The scheme was carried out for a number of years dating back to 1992. Aside from the kickback scheme, John Nicolo and Constance Roeder were also charged and convicted on counts of tax fraud involving the returns for their property appraisal business.
DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian represented Constance Roeder throughout the entire legal process. Upon conviction, Ms. Roeder faced several years in prison on charges of tax fraud and conspiracy. The sentencing hearings were held in New York’s Western Federal District Court in Rochester. Federal Court Judge David G. Larimer presided over the case.
As DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian dug deep into the background and facts of the case, it became apparent to the firm that Roeder had committed minimal wrongdoing. Testimony from Ms. Roeder and several witnesses revealed a long history of abuse and mistreatment at the hands of her husband, John Nicolo. DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian argued that Nicolo was not only the mastermind of the entire conspiracy, but he also controlled all aspects of Ms. Roeder’s life. The firm presented overwhelming evidence of Ms. Roeder’s fall from prominent musician and educator to a “shell of herself” due to the isolated life she was forced to lead. Supported by the testimony of colleagues, friends, family and Ms. Roeder’s psychiatrist, DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian fought hard to keep her from further suffering. With a myriad of psychological disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder, the firm argued that Ms. Roeder had been forced to falsify tax documents or bear the consequences of physical and verbal abuse.
DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian cited several legal precedents that had been set in which a co-conspirator could receive a sentence below the advisory guidelines. Judge Larimer sentenced Constance Roeder to three years of probation. Being that the recommended sentence was 41-51 months in prison, DerOhannesian & DerOhannesian yielded great results for their client. As evidenced by the successful defense of Ms. Roeder, the victims of white collar crimes are not limited to those who have lost money.