PRINT | CLOSE WINDOW

Ex-Kodaker Camarata files for bankruptcy

By WILL ASTOR - 12/30/2011

Out of prison and working for most of the past year as an accountant, Mark Camarata has filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.
 
Liabilities stated in the Dec. 17 filing include $9.9 million in non-dischargeable debt that Camarata owes as restitution for his part in a kickback scheme involving doctored appraisals and tax assessments for property owned by Eastman Kodak Co.
 
Camarata, a former Kodak tax accountant who oversaw the company's state and local tax payments and was a consultant to the state tax commissioner, pleaded guilty in 2009 to money laundering and tax evasion.
 
The nearly $10 million he owes as restitution accounts for most of the $10.9 million in debt stated in the Chapter 7 filing of Camarata and his wife, Kimberli. The restitution figure could be reduced by all or part of some $963,000 in stock and cash that Camarata has forfeited, his bankruptcy filing states.
 
The petition-filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rochester in the name of Camarata's wife-lists Mark Camarata as a joint debtor and the couple's sole provider.
 
Currently in year one of a three-year term of supervised release after serving 22 months of a two-year federal prison term, Camarata has worked as a CPA for a Henrietta accounting firm for the past 11 months. He makes $60,000 a year in the job, the filing states.
 
Accused of taking $4.9 million in kickbacks in a scheme that ran for several years in the 1990s and cost Kodak, the town of Greece and several other parties nearly $10 million, Camarata testified extensively against his co-conspirators, Charles Schwab and John Nicolo.
 
Nicolo, a former Yates County tax assessor, and Schwab, formerly Greece's tax assessor, are jointly and severally liable with Camarata for much of the $9.9 million in restitution they are collectively ordered to pay.
 
In joint and several liability, no more than the amount owed is collected but any one of the jointly liable parties can be made to pay the entire debt.
 
The Camaratas' bankruptcy filing accordingly lists Nicolo and Schwab as co-debtors. But the pair of former assessors is not likely to contribute much in the foreseeable future. As federal prisoners, they do not generate income to speak of.
 
Camarata, meanwhile, is making monthly payments of $991.15 toward the court-ordered restitution, a rate of payment that would see the debt paid off in roughly 800 years.
 
In the bankruptcy filing, the Camaratas state assets of $404,000. Much that amount is encumbered by restraints imposed by federal officials or mortgage debt.
 
Mark Camarata's 401(k) account of approximately $191,000 cannot be drawn on without a judge's approval. And the couple's 2009 Toyota Corolla, 2008 Honda Accord and 2003 Honda S2000 are under court restraint. The Camaratas' $150,000 condominium is subject to a $200,000 federal lien as well as a roughly $129,000 mortgage lien.
 
Mark Camarata drew some $42,000 from his 401(k) account in 2010 when he was in prison. In 2010 and 2011, Kimberli Camarata collected $21,800 and $18,255 in unemployment insurance, the couple's bankruptcy petition states.
 
According to the filing, Mark Camarata's net monthly income of $3,319.95 falls far short of their needs, typically leaving them some $2,400 a month in the red.
 
The couple's stated regular monthly expenses include a $1,293.84 mortgage payment. They spend $552 a month to pay premiums for life and automobile insurance and a homeowner's policy. They have health coverage for their dog but not themselves.
 
Camarata's downfall had left him a chastened and changed man, he told the court at his sentencing hearing more than two years ago.
 
"I do have remorse, as you saw on the stand and see today, but I think even greater I have repentance," Camarata told U.S. District Judge David Larimer in July 2009. "It's unfortunate that we can't look in a man's heart, but God can, and I can tell you that my heart is changed. I made a mistake, I take responsibility for it, I've taken responsibility for it, and I appreciate the government's assistance in this matter as well in helping me to do so."
 
Citing his client's remorse and cooperation with authorities, Camarata's lawyer sought probation without prison time for his client, who could have drawn a nearly 20-year sentence.
 
Larimer acknowledged Camarata's turnabout but said it would only go so far in excusing his crimes.
 
"I ... don't have any reason to dispute your letter to me indicating your trust in the Lord and your efforts in that regard and the fact that as you sit here today, your heart is changed," the judge told Camarata.
 
"If only that had happened several years before all of this, we wouldn't be here, you wouldn't be here. But the past is the past, and that's what brings us here. I think you understand, I hope better than anyone, that there are consequences to our acts. Saying one is sorry doesn't necessarily mean there should not be some consequence."

(c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.