SARATOGA SPRINGS – Michele Riggi, the socialite and wife of deceased businessman Ronald Riggi, is being sued individually and as the executor of her late husband’s estate by the company he started with his brother, Vincent Riggi, in 1972.
Turbine Services Ltd., through its attorneys at Nolan Heller Kauffman, filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County on Feb. 24 asking a judge to order Michele Riggi to pay back the now-over-$27 million in loans and interest her husband owed the company, according to court filings.
The company is also asking a judge to void the 2020 transfer of the couple’s properties in Saratoga Springs and outside Lake Placid from Ronald Riggi to Michele Riggi. The transfer of the properties was done to defraud Turbine Service and to hinder the company from collecting the unpaid loans, the company contends in its lawsuit.
Ronald Riggi began receiving loan advances from Turbine Services Ltd. in 2004, according to court documents. In the years following, he continued to receive loans from the company. Those loans garnered interest each year at the federal rate provided by the Internal Revenue Service.
Ronald Riggi served as the chief executive officer of Turbine Services and also a member of its Board of Directors up until his death in August 2022. His brother, Vince, has been and remains its president.
“Each year R. Riggi made partial payments on the loan by TSL’s agreement to credit distributions and other amounts payable to R. Riggi against his loan balance,” the court documents state.
In March 2020, Ronald Riggi transferred three properties in all to his wife – the so-called Riggi Mansion at 637 North Broadway in Saratoga Springs and an adjoining lot at 23 Greenfield Ave., as well as a property outside Lake Placid at 116 Bear Club Lane in North Elba.
“At the time of the transfers, the balances of principal and interest on Ronald Riggi’s loan from his company exceeded $29 million and $3.5 million, respectively,” the lawsuit states.
The company is alleging that the transfer of property was made to avoid paying the loan back and that Ronald Riggi was either insolvent at the time the properties were transferred or became insolvent when he transferred the properties.
“Upon information and belief, at the time of the above transfer, Ms. Riggi had actual knowledge of the loan and intended that the transfer would insulate the Lake Placid Property from plaintiff,” documents state. The lawsuit goes on to allege the same scenario in regard to the Saratoga Springs properties.
The company is seeking to gain either the “lesser of the value” of said properties at the time the transfers occurred or the “amount necessary to satisfy the loan,” as well as attorney fees and and other costs the plaintiff incurs.
In July 2022, Michele Riggi put the North Elba property up for sale for over $31 million and, in September 2022, she listed the Saratoga Springs properties for $17.9 million. As of Feb. 10, the asking price for both homes had dropped to $15 million and $12 million, respectively, according to court documents.
In August 2021, both Riggi brothers entered into an agreement with Turbine Services that upon their death the company would purchase their stock.
When Ronald Riggi died last August, the company bought out over $10 million worth of his stock and applied it to the loan and interest, decreasing the balance of the loan to just under $27 million and the interest to $0.
However, since his death, the loan began accruing interest again.
“To date, the estate has failed to pay the outstanding principal, accrued interest and other sums due and owing to plaintiff under the loan,” documents state.
Neither Michele Riggi nor the attorneys for TSL could be reached for comment.