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Trial dates set in Risoldi fraud case as Bucks seeks $164K in unpaid tax bills

Real estate taxes owed on four properties the state Attorney General contends are directly or indirectly owned by the Risoldi family have not been paid since 2015. A hearing next month could be held to decide how the bill will be paid.

A Chester County judge has given a prominent and politically connected Bucks County family until next month to make a $75,000 down payment toward overdue real estate taxes on four properties that are part of a $20 million insurance fraud case scheduled to go to trial next year.

Last month, Chester County Judge Thomas Gavin, who’s overseeing the trial of four members of the Risoldi family, ordered the payment to the Bucks County Tax Claims Bureau be received by March 1. If that doesn’t happen, a hearing will be held on competing motions involving the unpaid tax bill later in March.

More than $164,000 in unpaid taxes, penalties and fees is owed Bucks County for the Buckingham properties, according to the Tax Claim Bureau, which collects delinquent real estate taxes and sells tax-delinquent properties.

The bureau said that the real estate taxes have not been paid since 2015, the year the state attorney general’s office charged members of the Risoldi family with fraud and related offenses in connection with an October 2013 fire that heavily damaged the family’s 10-acre estate, Clairemont.

The state contends the Risoldis are the direct or indirect owner of the properties. Shortly after their arrests, the attorney general’s office seized the properties along with more than $3 million in vehicles and cash from the family, to preserve them as potential sources of restitution. The state estimates the properties are worth $2.3 million.

Gavin set the payment deadline to avoid a hearing on the unpaid tax bills, which ranges from $26,484.72 for a home in the 4800 block of Danielle Drive to $72,408.74 for the Clairemont estate in the 5700 block of Stonyhill Road.

The judge previously deferred action on motions brought by defendant Carl Risoldi, 46, of Buckingham, to release $50,000 in frozen family assets to pay the overdue taxes, as well as a motion from the attorney general’s office — which opposes the release of the seized assets — seeking to order the family pay the taxes.

In an email, attorney Michael Diamondstein, who represents Carl Risoldi, said that his client wants the taxes to be paid.

“Mr. Risoldi … has no objection to the taxes being satisfied in full from the amount of money inappropriately seized and held by the Office of Attorney General for the last three years,” Diamondstein wrote. “The Office of Attorney General has refused that request and doesn’t wish to allow the taxes to be paid from the money that was seized from Mr. Risoldi.”

In its filing, the AG’s office contends that the Risoldis could have paid the taxes when they were due, but chose not to, citing a review the family’s 2015 financial documents that found they had access to more than $600,000.

Carl Risoldi and his sister, Carla Risoldi, 51, of Solebury, are listed as co-owners of Clairemont. Lower Makefield resident Karl Morris, a Risoldi family friend, is the owner of record of properties in the 4800 and 4900 blocks of Danielle Drive in Buckingham, where Claire Risoldi and Carl Risoldi and his family live. The AG’s office believes Morris bought the properties as a “straw buyer” for the Risoldis, who allegedly paid for them with “unlawfully obtained” insurance proceeds. Morris isn’t facing criminal charges in the case, officials said.

The fourth property in the 4800 block of Danielle Drive is owned by a holding company, Gemini Capital Limited Group LLC, a company the AG’s office alleges is owned by Carl Risoldi.

The Risoldi siblings and Morris don’t owe real estate taxes on other properties they own, according to county tax records.

Also last month, Gavin set dates for two trials involving the Risoldis. Claire Risoldi, 70, of Buckingham, who faces the largest number of charges including separate cases of witness intimidation, will be tried first on Jan. 14, 2019. The trial for her children, and Carl Risoldi’s wife, Shelia, 46, of Buckingham, is scheduled to begin March 4, 2019.

Gavin was assigned to hear the case after all elected Bucks County judges recused themselves, citing potential conflicts of interest since the Risoldi family has been prominent GOP supporters in the county.

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