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BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — The trial started Tuesday for a prominent member of a Bucks County family who is accused of being involved in a $20 million insurance fraud scheme. Investigators started taking a closer look at Claire Risoldi’s finances after their mansion had three fires in five years.
This case had been in the works for a while now. Risoldi was indicted four years ago on those insurance fraud charges. She’s also charged with witness intimidation.
Attorneys on both sides finally laid out their cases on Tuesday.
The 72-year-old Risoldi is accused of living large on trumped-up insurance claims. It involves her family’s million-dollar Clairemont mansion on Stony Hill Road, in nearby Buckingham Township. Risoldi was charged after three fires over five years happened inside the home.
A tarp still hangs over the roof today.
In all, she’s accused of bilking more than $20 million in insurance claims as she allegedly used the money to buy expensive cars and lavish items for the home, as well as fund extravagant dinner parties for Republican candidates.
Bucks County Prosecutor Linda Montag argued in her opening statement, “Greed is not only her downfall. Greed is who she is.”
Montag added, “You will hear evidence of fake appraisals of fraudulent receipts, of inflated rental leases. You will hear the definition of insurance fraud.”
However, defense attorney Jack McMahon pointed the finger at an insurance company.
“This case is about greed. It’s about the greed of AIG,” said McMahon. “If there’s a way to wiggle out of it, a way to weasel out of it, a way to screw over the insured, they will.”
Now that the trial started, the mansion has become somewhat of a spectacle in the Buckingham Township community.
“I wanted to show my brother this house,” said Rich Driscoll, of Newtown. “It’s blatant insurance fraud and I’d just like to see justice.”
“It makes me sick that people think they can get away with anything,” said Fred Driscoll, of Northeast Philadelphia. “It’s the first time I’m seeing it. I’m glad I don’t live up here. I wouldn’t want to live next to that — a reminder of that.”
The trial is expected to last two weeks. Risoldi’s husband killed himself in February 2015.