Gayle Killilea wins $83,333 in US court
Balance of $500,000 award still outstanding to developer
Glamorous developer Gayle Killilea, who is married to the erstwhile 'Baron of Ballsbridge' Sean Dunne, celebrated in style yesterday as she attended the glittering K-Club wedding of her stepson Stephen Dunne as news emerged of a legal victory in the US, where she has just obtained a judgement for $83,333 (€64,503) against her immigration lawyer.
Records filed with the Supreme Court in Manhattan on April 29 show that Philip Teplen -- whose law firm Ms Killilea retained to assist her with the process of applying for an investment visa -- has consented to what is termed a 'judgement by confession'.
Under United States law, such judgements are applied in cases where an individual acknowledges that they owe a certain amount of money, but claims that they are financially incapable of paying the full amount immediately.
While Mr Teplen's agreement to have the $83,333 judgement entered against him and his firm, Teplen & Associates, will no doubt be welcomed by Ms Killilea, it still falls a long way short of the $500,000 (€387,025) plus costs and damages that she had been seeking to recover by way of the Order of Attachment granted to her by the court in January last year.
While neither Ms Killilea nor Mr Teplen were available for comment, the Sunday Independent understands that the issue of the $416,667 (€322,521) shortfall will now be referred to the New York Bar Association.
Ms Killilea is expected to seek compensation for the outstanding amount from the Association's insurance fund -- a move which could have potentially serious implications for Mr Teplen, given that such claims require the insurance fund to file a formal complaint with the District Attorney's office.
Ms Killilea had been seeking the return of the $500,000 that she had transferred from her bank account on November 17, 2010, to an account of Mr Teplen's firm as part of the process of applying for an investment visa from US immigration authorities.
While Ms Killilea's application was to have been based on real estate investments in Chicago, a subsequent change of mind on her part set in train a series of events that caused her to question her choice of immigration attorney.
When Ms Killilea instructed Mr Teplen in December 2010 to transfer $170,000 (€131,588) from his firm's escrow account to another law firm for the purposes of an alternative property investment, he sought to persuade her against this course of action.
Ms Killilea told the court in an affidavit of her surprise at being informed that her visa application had already been submitted and that her $500,000 was now working capital. Mr Teplen failed to return the money despite a series of requests from Ms Killilea to do so.
Fears that the New York-based immigration lawyer had misappropriated Ms Killilea's money were heightened considerably on December 23, 2010, when the New Jersey bank in which Mr Teplen's firm held its escrow account wrote to inform the court that the account in question no longer existed.