Claire Risoldi, the Bucks County socialite convicted of bilking insurance companies out of millions of dollars, will spend at least the better part of a year behind bars, a judge ruled Friday.
Risoldi, 71, was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in prison and ordered to pay $10.4 million in restitution for inflated insurance claims she filed after three fires at Clairemont, her New Hope estate.
In February, a jury found Risoldi guilty of insurance fraud, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, and related offenses. After her jail term, she’ll face eight years of probation.
“This defendant masterminded a multimillion-dollar insurance fraud scheme to fund her own excessive lifestyle,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose office prosecuted the case, said in a statement Friday. “Insurance fraud harms all Pennsylvanians — the costs trickle down to consumers and inflate rates for everyone else.… This is unacceptable."
Risoldi’s attorney, Jack McMahon, said his reaction to the decision by Chester County Senior Judge Thomas Gavin was that the sentence was “down the middle.” Gavin was brought in to try the case because of Risoldi’s connections in Bucks County and her family’s history of throwing lavish political fund-raisers.
“We were disappointed that he sent a 71-year-old lady to jail on one end," McMahon said, “but on the other end, the government was seeking a three-year sentence.”
The jurors found that Risoldi and her family conspired to dupe insurers after three fires at the estate between 2009 and 2013, seeking payment for items on which they’d already collected insurance. At the same time, prosecutors said during the trial, Risoldi and her family increased coverage on pieces of jewelry just weeks before the third fire in 2013.
Risoldi was charged in 2015 along with five others, including her husband, Thomas French. French took his own life shortly afterward, leaving a note professing his innocence.
McMahon said Friday that he plans to appeal the sentence, asserting that the required restitution was not justified under the law.
“The house legitimately burned down, and the house had contents that legitimately burned, that’s what the money was for,” he said. “The judge tried to make it a civil case where a contract would be voided, but this was a criminal court. And we believe that he tried to use civil logic for a criminal case.”