Thursday 18 January 2018

Killilea's former lawyer arrested in US over her missing $500,000

Gayle Killilea
Gayle Killilea
Gayle Killilea with her husband Sean Dunne
Philip Teplen
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Gayle Killilea's former immigration lawyer has been arrested in the US over allegations he swindled the former gossip columnist and socialite out of $500,000 (€447,000).

New York lawyer Philip Teplen was taken into custody earlier this week after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with the case.

Mr Teplen (58) was sued by Ms Killilea, the wife of bust developer Sean Dunne, four years ago.

He was hired by Ms Killilea to help her apply for an investment visa after she and her husband moved to the US in 2010.

To support the application she put $500,000 in an escrow account controlled by Mr Teplen. However, when she sought to use the money in a property deal in December 2010, Mr Teplen allegedly failed to return the cash.

Ms Killilea subsequently filed a lawsuit against Mr Teplen in the New York State Supreme Court and secured an order compelling him to produce the money or a convincing reason why he did not have it.

Mr Teplen, who ran a law firm in Manhattan, resigned from the New York Bar in March 2014 after disciplinary proceedings were initiated.

He had been set to be called as a witness in Mr Dunne's bankruptcy trial as he served as a trustee on a house linked to the couple.

However, the trial did not go ahead after Mr Dunne waived his right to a discharge from bankruptcy last December.

Mr Teplen, who lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, was taken into custody on Wednesday, charged with being a fugitive from justice after a warrant was issued for his arrest in New York, where he is wanted on a charge of second-degree grand larceny. Police contacted him at this home, and he agreed to step outside to talk to officers. He was then arrested and taken into custody.

Mr Teplen said he had been unaware there was an active warrant for his arrest.

During a hearing on Thursday morning at the Connecticut Superior Court in Bridgeport, Judge Robin Pavia ordered that Mr Teplen be held in lieu of a $500,000 bond, pending proceedings to extradite him to New York.

Meanwhile, the US bankruptcy trustee pursuing Sean Dunne's assets has enlisted the help of one of the world's largest law firms.

Trustee Richard Coan has hired Mayer Brown LLP, noted as the world's 14th largest law firm in terms of revenue, to act for him in a dispute over a property in the fashionable Soho district of New York.

A building there is being developed by a company controlled by Ms Killilea and Mr Dunne's son from his first marriage, John.

The $22m (€19.7m) project has been put on hold since Mr Coan issued a "notice of pendency" on the property. This is a notice that a lien may be sought on the property.

John Dunne has sought to have this overturned in a New York court and said it had impeded his company from borrowing funds to complete the development.

Irish Independent

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