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  • Dean Smith

$20 Million Insurance Scam Cause of PA Husband’s Suicide

67-year-old Claire Risoldi, along with several family members and others, has come under fire (literally and figuratively) for the three fires in five years at “Clairemont,” the family’s mansion located in New Hope, PA.

Prosecutors from the (democratic-led) state attorney general’s office describe Risoldi in the grand jury report as the, “matriarch of a family that lived large on the proceeds of suspicious fires — three in five years — and suddenly-missing jewelry.” And according to the Associated Press, these “proceeds” paid for drapery studded in Swarovski crystals, a ceiling mural of her family dressed in robes, Ferraris, among other expensive, luxury items.

Risoldi, who happens to have held “grand Republican fundraising soirees” in the Clairemont mansion, is claiming that the allegations are all about politics.

The accusations that stemmed from the alleged $20 million insurance fraud scheme proved to be too much for Risoldi’s husband, Thomas French, 64-year-old architect, ex-Marine and retired sheriff’s deputy, as he took his own life last month and left a suicide note denying any wrongdoing.

The note says, “I had a great life with Claire and I love her to no end. … There is no one like her. I committed no crime and I can’t bear seeing Claire … (and the others) going through this mess. I am very sad to have done this. Honestly my mental state can’t absorb any more.”

According to the Associated Press, Jack McMahon, one of several family lawyers working on the case, said French became “depressed and disillusioned about the perceived abuse of power by a government that meant so much to him.”

The last fire occurred in October of 2013, which American International Group has already paid $11 million for damages. However, Risoldi is also blaming the firefighters that responded to the home for stealing $10 million worth of jewelry.

The grand jury report also notes that Risoldi had another fire claim at a previous home that also included bizarre thefts. Furthermore, Risoldi was always the last person home before the fires occurred, and she had “highly flammable hairspray stockpiled near the point of origin.” That makes four fire claims in total.

Risoldi’s family lawyers argue that all three of the fires mentioned in the grand jury report were fully investigated and labeled accidental, all of the money would be used to rebuild and not profit from, and that Risoldi was proud of her jewelry and would not risk claiming it stolen because she wouldn’t be able to show it off in public going forward.

According to Penn Live and the Associated Press, “Risoldi, French and her two adult children, Carla (48-year-old former county prosecutor) and Carl (43-year-old state turnpike worker), were charged with racketeering, theft, insurance fraud and other crimes. Two others, including the man who said he sold Risoldi $2 million worth of draperies, are charged with fraud.”

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