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Series of emails reveal growing anxiety over safety of $500,000

A SERIES of email exchanges illustrates how developer's wife Gayle Dunne became increasingly worried about the safety of $500,000 (€375,000) which was being held for her by her New York lawyer Philip Teplen.

The cash was to be used for a property deal in Chicago, but when Mrs Dunne backed out of the deal and asked for the money to be returned to her, all she received was a series of excuses from Mr Teplen.

On December 11 she wrote demanding that $170,000 (€129,000) of the money be returned "straight away" as she needed it for another property deal.

Mr Teplen replied to apologise for not getting back to her. "Perhaps we can do lunch tomorrow at Morillo and also talk about your visa and this transaction," he wrote.

Ms Dunne replied that she needed the money transferred first thing on Monday morning, which was December 13. When this didn't happen, she emailed him again.

This time Mr Teplen responded: "I am truly sorry. I have a court hearing this morning and will then devote 100pc effort to the matter."

The following day she wrote to him saying she needed all of the money and was worried about the delay.

"The delay in transferring the money is making me uneasy. I do not want to be put in a position where I have to hold you liable for the loss of the property I need to close on immediately," she wrote.

By December 15, Mr Teplen was blaming the illness of his partner Lola for his failure to send back the money.

"As you no doubt have heard, Lola has been very sick and we have both been at the doctor's office all day for tests," he said.

But Mrs Dunne had little sympathy for his excuse. That afternoon she replied by email, saying: "I am sorry to hear that Lola is sick and I hope she recovers soon. Please give her my best.

"I am afraid I still do not understand why being at the doctor with Lola waiting for results prevented you from issuing instructions to transfer my funds. Both actions required just two short emails or phone calls."

Mrs Dunne asked that the $500,000 be transferred by 10am the following morning. But when this deadline passed, Mrs Dunne's patience had been exhausted.

The next emails received by Mr Teplen were solicitors' letters seeking the return of the funds.

Irish Independent