Bucks County socialite and Republican Party fund-raiser Claire Risoldi was found guilty Tuesday in a Doylestown courtroom of a $20 million insurance fraud.
A jury of 10 men and two women deliberated for more than four hours before finding the 71-year-old woman guilty of six of nine charges, including insurance fraud, theft by deception, and receiving stolen property.
The Bucks County Court jury found that Risoldi and her family conspired to dupe insurers after three fires between 2009 and 2013 at the family’s 10-acre New Hope estate, Clairemont. The prosecution noted that Risoldi and family members expanded and increased coverage on more than 50 pieces of jewelry weeks before the third fire in 2013.
She was first charged in 2014 with attempting to defraud the insurer, AIG.
Linda Montag, Pennsylvania senior deputy attorney general, said Risoldi could face a maximum of 60 years in prison. A sentencing hearing has not been scheduled, but must take place between 60 and 90 days after the verdict.
Risoldi wore a black sweater and blue jeans, ditching the sparkly knit hat she had donned for most of the three-week trial, and pulled back her straw-blonde hair. She was expressionless as the foreman read the verdict. Her two children, Carl and Carla, entered late and departed quickly.
Jack McMahon, Risoldi’s defense attorney, had spun a narrative Monday during closing arguments that the government and AIG were conspiring against his client, who he said had simply tried to cash in a substantial insurance claim.
Montag disputed that contention. “Defense would have you believe that we were complicit in a crime,” she said Monday. “It doesn’t make sense that we’re helping AIG to deny a claim, especially since they paid her so much money in the past. They denied it because of fraud.”
Montag said the Risoldis were continually asking for repayment on items for which they already had collected. The goal, Montag said, was to fund an increasingly luxurious lifestyle for a family known for throwing lavish fund-raisers for county Republicans.
McMahon said Tuesday that he was dismayed by the verdict. “We thought we put on a strong case, and the jury spoke otherwise,” he said. “We’re disappointed, but we respect it.”
McMahon said it was “too early to tell” whether the verdict would be appealed.
While Risoldi remains free on bail, Chester County Senior Judge Thomas Gavin warned her not to publicly or privately discuss her case or the upcoming case of her son, scheduled for next month. Gavin was presiding over the case because of the Risoldi family’s ties to the Bucks County GOP.
“You can be your own worst enemy when you contact people,” he said. “It is obviously in your best interest to conduct yourself in a manner that would present you in the most favorable light to the court.”