Man denies claim he stole $4m from heiress and that pair were engaged
A NEW York-based Irishman has denied claims that he defrauded a 60-year-old American woman of millions, the High Court has heard.
Elisa Rodino alleges that Thomas J Queally, who was engaged to her, stole 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 – whom she has not seen for months – lived a double life and had another fiancee.
At the High Court, Mr Queally's lawyers said claims that he transferred money from a joint bank in the US to his account in Ireland without Ms Rodino's authorisation were untrue.
The court also heard that Mr Queally rejects Ms Rodino's claims that she was his fiancee and that he was engaged to another woman in New York.
Last month, Ms Rodino's lawyers secured a number of temporary freezing orders against Mr Queally, of Sherman Avenue, Yonkers, New York. He is originally from Lahaknock, Kilmaley, Co Clare.
These orders prevent him from reducing, dissipating or transferring to below a value of €1.6m funds that are held in a bank account at Permanent TSB in Ennis, Co Clare.
Ms Rodino, of Cathedral Avenue, Hempstead, New York, claims that the money in the Ennis bank account – approximately $2m (€1.5m) – is hers.
She further claims that it was moved by Mr Queally from a joint account held in the US in both their names.
Patricia Hill, acting for Mr Queally, said her client rejected all the allegations. She said it was Mr Queally's case that on October 18 last, Ms Rodino signed a document at a New York bank, stating that any transfer of funds from a joint account to Mr Queally's account was done with her full permission.
This document was executed in the presence of a notary, said counsel, adding that Ms Rodino had failed to mention this.
On that basis, it was intended to ask the court to vacate the freezing order on the ground that there had not been a full and frank disclosure of all material facts to the court.
Ms Hill also told the court Mr Queally rejected claims that his two teenage children from his previous marriage had been put through private Catholic schools with money allegedly taken from Ms Rodino.
In reply, Ross Gorman, acting for Ms Rodino, said that any application to set aside the freezing orders would be opposed. He wanted the injunction to remain in place, pending the full hearing of the dispute.
Mr Gorman asked that the matter be adjourned. Mr Queally's replying affidavit was received on Wednesday and he said the Irish-based legal team needed time to consult with their client and her US-based lawyers.
Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley agreed to adjourn the matter to early next week.
Last month, the High Court heard that Ms Rodino was a vulnerable woman who had been taken advantage of by Mr Queally, whom she met in 2007.
She claims that 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 – a deposit account that contained $5m (€3.8m).
She claims Mr Queally asked her to do this because it would show that he and Ms Rodino, who had inherited a sizable property portfolio from her late father, were a couple and that the work he did on her properties was not a contract of employment, the court heard.
She claims that last October Mr Queally was due to meet up with her in Spain, but never showed up. She then discovered that money had been transferred to the bank in Ennis and to a US bank account. She has also brought a legal action against him in New York.