'Extravagant' Family Accused of $20M Insurance Fraud

Risoldis accused firefighters of $10M theft after suspicious mansion fire
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2015 12:34 PM CST
'Extravagant' Family Accused of $20M Insurance Fraud
This undated photo provided by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General shows Claire Risoldi.   (AP Photo/Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General)

What kind of people would set their home on fire, then falsely accuse volunteer firefighters of stealing $10 million in jewelry? The Risoldi clan of Bucks County, Pa., might fit the bill, according to prosecutors. The family fell under suspicion of fraud after a fire at Claire Risoldi's "Clairemont" mansion in 2013—the third fire in five years—which was followed by huge insurance claims, 6 ABC reports. According to a grand jury presentment, although the cause of all three fires is officially "undetermined," large amounts of highly flammable material had been placed near the origin of the blazes, and home security video shows Claire Risoldi leaving the home just a minute before smoke appeared in the 2013 blaze, which contradicts the account she gave to cops and insurance representatives.

Authorities say Risoldi falsely accused the firefighters of taking 55 pieces of jewelry—and the family had increased the insurance coverage on the jewelry from $100,000 to nearly $11 million just 25 days before the blaze. Risoldi, 67, has been charged with conspiracy, attempted theft by deception, witness intimidation, and forgery, reports the AP. Her husband, two children, and a daughter-in-law are among six other people charged in the case. Prosecutors say the family used fraud to fund an "excessively extravagant lifestyle"; the insurance company has paid out more than $20 million in claims for the three fires, and Risoldi had also allegedly made other questionable insurance claims. Around $7 million in family assets have been seized, including $3 million in cash, six Ferraris, and two Rolls-Royces. (More insurance fraud stories.)

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