A LONG-serving garda has been arrested and questioned about an alleged bogus collection for his "seriously ill" wife.
It is believed that a local community was told that the woman was suffering from cancer and urgently needed medical treatment in the United States.
The garda is alleged to have organised a collection in his area and secured donations to offset the costs of the trip.
Investigating officers believe that more than €120,000 was collected over a few months as friends and neighbours handed over money for what one described as "a good cause".
The garda, who is based in the south east of the country, was arrested yesterday morning by detectives who had been working on the case since late last year.
The man was detained on suspicion of deception and taken for questioning to the garda station in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny.
He was held throughout the day under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. He was released from custody last night.
A senior officer said that a file would now be prepared by detectives for the Director of Public Prosecutions, who would determine if criminal charges should be brought.
Investigating gardai have accounted for around half of the donated money since their inquiries began and are still trying to track down a number of people who were allegedly duped into handing over money but have not yet come forward and contacted detectives.
Officers said they had established that there was no basis for the claim that the money was to be used to fund a trip to the US for cancer treatment.
They believe that some of the donors were embarrassed at apparently being duped and were reluctant to make complaints to the investigation team.
"Those caught up in this collection are very decent people and, having made the contributions in good faith, are now left in this mess," one officer said.
Gardai are also examining the suspect's financial state in an effort to find a motive for the bogus collection.
One of the theories being pursued is that the money was to have been used to meet gambling debts, but investigators stressed that a number of lines of inquiry were being followed up.
The garda had been serving in a rural station when the collection was launched and a number of local dignatories agreed to provide substantial donations when they were contacted.