|Risoldi family members enter court|
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Risoldi kids succeed in separating fraud trials with family matriarch
Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2016
A Bucks County socialite will face two trials — one alongside her family in a $20 million insurance fraud case and another alone for alleged criminal acts that occurred before a 2013 fire.
The order for separate trials came from Senior Judge Thomas Gavin earlier this month in response to a Jan. 4 motion filed by Claire Risoldi’s children and daughter-in-law. The younger Risoldis sought separate trials from Claire Risoldi on the grounds that being tried with a co-defendant “who is alleged to have engaged in insurance fraud for 29 years” would be prejudicial, according to court documents.
The order separating the defendants’ cases by date of alleged criminal conduct prompted more legal objections from Claire Risoldi’s lawyer — who called it prejudicial to his client — and the state prosecutor, who opposes separate trials for any defendants. In a legal brief requesting Gavin reconsider his order, the prosecution argued the court had no authority to separate the cases by date since no defendant requested that.
The Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the cases, has declined comment. The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching Risoldi defense attorneys for comment Wednesday.
Claire Risoldi, 68, will be tried with the other defendants, including her daughter, son and daughter-in-law, for the alleged offenses arising out of the Oct. 22, 2013, fire at Clairemont, the family’s Stony Hill Road estate.
Insurer AIG has paid the family $10 million in claims related to that fire so far, and another roughly $10 million for claims related to 2009 and 2010 fires at Clairemont.
Claire Risoldi faces charges of theft by deception, corrupt organizations, false insurance claims, receiving stolen property, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity and forgery in connection with the insurance fraud case filed in January 2015. She alone faces separate charges in that trial of witness intimidation and obstruction administration of law in a related case.
Carl A. Risoldi, 44, and his wife, Sheila, 44, both of Buckingham, and Carla V. Risoldi, 49, of Solebury, also face felonies that include conspiracy, theft, corrupt organizations and insurance fraud.
Claire Risoldi also will be tried separately, after the trial involving the 2013 fire, on charges of fraud for offenses that the Pennsylvania Attorney General alleges occurred between Nov. 29, 1984, and September 2013, according to the order.
The Attorney General's Office has accused the Risoldis of falsifying and inflating the value of items lost or damaged and the reconstruction costs for financial gain in the 2013 fire. Claire Risoldi also is accused of engaging in fraud related to previous insurance claims starting in 1984.
The first trial is scheduled to start Feb. 8. Gavin, of Chester County, is overseeing the Risoldi trial after all Bucks County judges recused themselves due to possible conflicts of interest.
Jo Ciavaglia: 215-949-4181; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @JoCiavaglia