Carl Risoldi will spend the next four years on probation after pleading guilty Friday to three misdemeanor charges in connection with false insurance claims filed following a 2013 fire at the family’s 10-acre Buckingham estate known as “Clairemont.” As part of the agreement, the state Attorney General’s Office becomes the new owner of the Stoney Hill Road property.
The 10-acre, million-dollar Buckingham estate called “Clairemont” that once hosted Republican fundraisers and political candidates will soon be state property under a plea agreement reached with the son of its owner — a onetime socialite now convicted felon.
Carl Risoldi, 46, of Buckingham, admitted in Bucks County Court on Friday that he conspired with his mother, Claire Risoldi, to file fraudulent insurance claims with insurer AIG following an Oct. 22, 2013, fire at the Stoney Hill Road home that the family owned. He also admitted to theft by deception for claims filed on a homeowner’s policy and attempted theft by deception for filing false claims for $10 million in jewelry the family asserted went missing after the 2013 fire.
As part of the plea agreement, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office downgraded the charges against Carl Risoldi from felonies to second-degree misdemeanors and dismissed the remaining felony charges against him. Prosecutor Linda Montag also agreed not to seek perjury charges against Risoldi, who testified as a defense witness earlier this month at the trial of his mother, who was charged with similar fraud-related offenses involving past insurance claims.
Chester County Senior Judge Thomas Gavin sentenced Carl Risoldi to four years of non-reporting probation, in accordance with the plea agreement.
Defense attorney Michael Diamondstein called the plea agreement a “fair resolution.” He added that after four years of legal wrangling his client wants to move forward.
“He wanted this to end,” he said.
The guilty plea came roughly three weeks before Carl Risoldi was scheduled for trial, and two weeks after a jury found Claire Risoldi, 71, of Buckingham, guilty of six felonies for filing $13 million in false insurance claims following the 2013 fire. Claire Risoldi is awaiting sentencing later this year; she faces a potential maximum of 60 years in prison and millions in restitution and fines.
The plea agreement included a restitution order, which Carl Risoldi satisfied by transferring ownership of Clairemont to the state Attorney General’s Office. Risoldi and his sister, Carla Risoldi, were joint owners of Clairemont since 2004. Carla Risoldi waived her interest in the property last year, prosecutors said.
The family was given 60 days to remove items from the property. The AG’s office plans to liquidate the property and transfer the proceeds to AIG. Prosecutors did not provide an estimate on the value of Clairemont, but the Bucks County Board of Assessment lists its fair market value at $1.3 million.
The court also agreed to return to Carl Risoldi other assets frozen since 2015 under a court order designed to protect them for potential restitution, including two properties in the 4800 block of Danielle Drive, 14 cars including six-figure sports cars, Rolex watches, and one-third of the money in bank accounts held by him, Claire and Carla Risoldi.
The $20 million insurance fraud case made national headlines in January 2015 when a grand jury handed down a 47–page indictment charging the family with funding an extravagant lifestyle using fraudulently obtained insurance proceeds and falsely accusing volunteer firefighters of stealing $10 million in alleged missing jewelry after the third fire at the home.
AIG paid the Risoldi family roughly $20 million following three fires at Clairemont, including roughly $10 million following the 2013 fire.
Through their attorneys, the Risoldi family denied the charges against them as politically motivated. The Risoldis were well-known in the county for hosting lavish fundraisers, social events and political candidates, and their close political ties led to the entire Bucks County judicial bench recusing themselves from the case.
Other family members also were charged in the case were approved to enter special trial diversion programs for non-violent, first-time offenders that would give them an opportunity to expunge their criminal record. Two family associates had fraud-related charges against them dismissed. Claire Risoldi’s second husband, Thomas French, completed suicide shortly after the indictments were handed down.
While the criminal case is nearly done, unresolved legal issues for the family continue.
Still unclear is the fate of a 2015 civil suit the family brought in Bucks County Court against AIG for denying insurance claims associated with the 2013 fire and the fight over the estate of Thomas French between Claire Risoldi and French’s only child, Thomas French Jr., who is contesting a photocopy of his father’s will submitted for probate.