Bucks County

Woman Convicted in $20M Insurance Fraud Scheme Involving Torching of Her Home

Prosecutors accused Claire Risoldi and her family of setting fires to the woman's home so they could collect more than $20 million in insurance claims.

What to Know

  • Claire Risoldi was convicted of six criminal counts including theft by deception and insurance fraud for a scam involving torching her home
  • Fire spread through the Risoldis' New Hope home, named "Clairemont" by the woman, three times between June 2009 and October 2013.
  • Prosecutors said Risoldi and family collected more than $20 million in insurance claims then used the cash to fund an extravagant lifestyle.

A suburban Philadelphia woman has been convicted of most charges in a multi-million-dollar insurance fraud case following fires at her Bucks County property.

Jurors in Bucks County deliberated for four and a half hours before convicting 71-year-old Claire Risoldi on six of nine counts including theft by deception and insurance fraud.

The case related to insurance claims following a 2013 fire at her Buckingham estate, known as Clairemont. She was acquitted of receiving stolen property related to claims from earlier fires or burglary reports.

Risoldi has maintained her innocence since her 2015 indictment and alleges that $10 million in jewelry was gone following the last fire.

At the time, now-disgraced former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane accused Risoldi and her family of setting fires to the woman's home so they could collect more than $20 million in insurance claims, then used the cash float an "excessively extravagant lifestyle" marked by $1.2 million in jewelry and six Ferraris.

Risoldi, four members of her Bucks County family and two alleged co-conspirators were hit with several fraud charges after a more than year-long statewide investigation.

Fire spread through the Risoldis' New Hope home, named "Clairemont" by the woman, three times between June 2009 and October 2013. According to prosecutors, each fire started near a stockpile of highly flammable materials, including hairspray, and the cause was ruled undetermined.

In one case, home surveillance video captured Risoldi leaving the house a minute before smoke appeared and may have been inside when the home was burning, prosecutors said.

The family then would collect insurance money for lost jewelry, art and home treatments.

Kane said at the time that the family inflated the price tenfold of Romanesque paintings that were destroyed by fire, depicting the Risoldis wearing "flowing robes gazing down from the heavens." They also attempted to file a $2 million claim for damaged window treatments.

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Risoldi accused firefighters of stealing more than $10 million in jewelry from "Clairemont" while fighting one of the blazes, Kane said.

"I knew my guys didn't take anything out of the house, but we were accused," said Midway Volunteer Fire Company Chief Hugh Hager.

After collecting the insurance money, the family used the cash to carry out real estate transactions, buy expensive cars and fund their lavish lifestyle, prosecutors said. More than $7 million in assets seized by the state included $3 million from bank accounts, $1.2 million in jewelry, six Ferraris, two Rolls Royces and a Shelby Cobra.

The grand jury investigation found Risoldi increased coverage for her jewelry from $100,000 to nearly $11 million less than a month before the last fire in October 2013. Kane said jurors also found a pattern of questionable insurance claims by Risoldi spanning some 30 years. In one example, investigators found jewelry the woman said she lost in 1993.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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