A 60-year-old American woman was defrauded of millions by her younger Irish lover who she claims had been leading a double life, the High Court heard.
New York-based Elisa Rodino claims Thomas J Queally, who is in his mid-forties and who had been engaged to her, has stolen about $4m (€3m) of her money – a large portion of which was lodged by him into a bank in Ennis, Co Clare.
She also claims that Mr Queally, who she has not seen for months, had another fiancee while engaged to her.
Yesterday, lawyers acting on her behalf secured a number of temporary freezing orders against Mr Queally, who is originally from Lahaknock, Kilmaley, Co Clare.
They prevent him reducing, dissipating or transferring funds below a value of €1.6m held in a bank account at Permanent TSB in Ennis, Co Clare.
Ms Rodino, of Cathedral Avenue, Hempstead, New York, claims the money in the Ennis bank account, approximately $2m (€1.5m), is hers. She claims that it was moved by Mr Queally from a joint account held in the US in both their names.
Seeking the orders, Ross Gorman, for Ms Rodino, said his client was a vulnerable woman who had been taken advantage of by Mr Queally.
Last August, in order to aid Mr Queally in a court case against a former employer, she agreed to put his name down on one of her bank accounts. It was a deposit account that contained $5m.
Mr Queally asked her to do this because it would show that he and Ms Rodino were a couple and that the work he did on her properties was not a contract of employment, the court heard.
Last October, Mr Queally was due to meet up with Ms Rodino in Spain, but never showed up. When she arrived back in the US she discovered that money had been transferred to the bank in Ennis and to a US bank account.
Counsel said that Ms Rodino did not know exactly where Mr Queally is at present. She has brought a legal action against him in New York as well as in Ireland.
Counsel added it has been difficult to track Mr Queally down, but both Ms Rodino's Irish solicitors and her US lawyers were taking steps to find him.
It also appeared from investigations that at the same time he was engaged to Ms Rodino, Mr Queally was also engaged to another woman in the US.
The freezing orders were granted on an ex parte (one-side only) basis by Mr Justice Roderick Murphy. The judge made the matter returnable to early January.