Thursday, June 16, 2016

Risoldi attorney claims he has proof first responders lied about jewelry bag

Posted: Monday, June 13, 2016


The attorney for a politically connected Bucks County woman accused in a $20 million insurance fraud case claims he has photographic proof that nearly three dozen Bucks County first responders lied under oath about jewelry that is alleged to have been stolen. 
Jack McMahon, who represents Buckingham resident Claire Risoldi, also alleges that his client's June 1 arrest on charges of witness intimidation was the state Attorney General Office's response to being notified of what he called an "overwhelming fabrication" of evidence that he believes is an essential aspect of the state's fraud case against Risoldi and three of her family members. The witness intimidation charges have been held for trial.
The evidence, McMahon writes in a court document filed Wednesday, is a photo taken by a member of a local fire department that shows a "large white bag on the first chair" in the entryway to Risoldi's home, Clairemont. The Risoldi family claims the bag contained $10 million in jewelry. McMahon said the photo was taken when firefighters began to fight the fire that heavily damaged Clairemont on Oct. 22, 2013. The Risoldi family accused firefighters of stealing the bag; a grand jury ruled there was no evidence to substantiate the claims.
"The photo corroborated what all of the Risoldis have said regarding that bag and shows upwards of 25-30 first responders have fabricated the 'no bag on the chair' testimony," according to the filing. McMahon added that those individuals now could have "5th Amendment" issues, referring to the amendment that says a person cannot be compelled to be a witness against himself in a criminal case.
The document does not identify which of the five responding Bucks County volunteer fire companies provided the alleged photo. Midway Fire Co. and Lingohocken Fire Department each have been subpoenaed in the fraud case.
McMahon said one of his employees hand-delivered the photo to the AG's office May 27. He refused to provide a copy of the photo to this news organization.
Attorney Jack McMahon
McMahon believes the AG's response to the delivery has been to "engage in the vindictive malicious arrest of petitioner (Claire Risoldi)," the filing stated.

"The Attorney General has had this photograph for a long time," McMahon wrote. "There are only two possibilities: One, they enhanced it as we did and saw the bag and intentionally did not provide this information to the defense. Two, they engaged in a willful blindness to even the most basic and simple investigative technique because the truth is not what they are seeking."
Pennsylvania Attorney General spokesman Jeffrey Johnson said in an email that his office cannot comment on the allegations at this point because the case is ongoing.
The insurance fraud charges stem from the October 2013 fire, the Risoldis' accusation that first responders stole the bag of jewelry and related insurance claims.
A state grand jury investigated the case and interviewed more than 60 first responders who were at the scene of the fire. The grand jury's presentment says none recalled seeing the bag, seeing jewelry, seeing anyone take jewelry or anything at the house. The document also indicates the first responders said no "civilians" at the scene mentioned that jewelry was in the house.
The grand jury found that Claire Risoldi, 69, falsely reported the jewelry as stolen by firefighters who battled the blaze.
The state charged Claire Risoldi, her son, Carl A. Risoldi, 44, his wife, Sheila Risoldi, 45, all of Buckingham, and Claire's daughter, Carla V. Risoldi, 49, of Solebury, for allegedly falsifying and inflating the value of items lost or damaged in the 2013 fire. The family was arrested in January 2015 and through their respective attorneys, has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Claire Risoldi, who will be tried first and separately from her other family members, also faces accusations of insurance fraud dating back as far as 1984.
Chester County Judge Thomas Gavin is hearing the case because all of the Bucks County judges recused themselves due to their familiarity with members of the family. Claire Risoldi hosted several fundraisers at Clairemont for local Republican candidates.
Gavin has instructed Risoldi not to contact any of the witnesses in the case.
The AG's office, which has sought several times to have Risoldi's bail revoked, alleged that she attempted to contact witnesses in the insurance fraud case despite Gavin's warning and "illegally" issued subpoenas.

On Friday, Gavin found Risoldi in contempt of court for her involvement with the issuance of subpoenas in her fraud case. Risoldi is free on 10 percent of the $1 million bail set when she was arraigned on the contempt charges.

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