Heiress, 60, claims $4m fraud by Irish lover

A 60-year-old American woman has claimed before the High Court she has been defrauded of millions of euro by her younger Irish lover, who she says has been leading a double life.

New York-based Ms Elisa Rodino claims that Thomas J Queally, who is in his 40s and who had been engaged to her, has stolen 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 Mr Queally, who she has not seen for months, had another fiancee while engaged to her.

Yesterday at the High Court, lawyers acting on her behalf secured freezing orders against US-based Mr Queally, of Lahaknock, Kilmaley, Co Clare. The orders prevent Mr Queally reducing, dissipating or transferring funds below a value of €1.6m held in a bank account at Permanent TSB in Ennis, Co Clare.

Ms Rodino, Cathedral Avenue, Hempstead, New York, claims the money in the Ennis bank account, about $2m which was converted into euro, is hers. She claims it was moved by Mr Queally from a US account in both their names.

Ross Gorman BL, for Ms Rodino, said his client was a vulnerable woman who had been taken advantage of. Several years ago she inherited a significant property portfolio in New York after the death of her father.

Last August, in order to aid Mr Queally in a court case against a former employer, she agreed to put his name on one of her bank accounts. It was a deposit account containing $5m.

Mr Queally asked her to do this as it would show he and Ms Rodino were a couple and that the work he did on her properties was due to their relationship, and was not a contract, counsel said.

Last October, Mr Queally was to meet with Ms Rodino in Spain, but never showed. When she arrived back in the US she found money had been transferred to the bank in Ennis and to a US bank account.

Counsel said his client did not know where Mr Queally was. She has brought a legal action against him in New York as well as in Ireland, and fears he will dissipate the funds held in the Irish bank account.

In an affidavit, Ms Rodino says he “started stealing money from me at a early stage in our relationship.” The two met in 2007 through her sister, and became close. They became engaged in 2011.

He had helped manage her property portfolio. The Clare native, she said, was a “charming and attractive man” and she was taken in by the attention he gave her. However, she was naive and wanted to believe she had finally met someone “to love and settle down with”. He even took her back to Ireland to meet his family.

Mr Queally, she said, was living a double life. She said that she would not see him for weeks, and that both his children from a previous marriage attended very prestigious, expensive private schools.

The freezing orders were granted on an ex parte basis by Mr Justice Roderick Murphy. The matter will come before the court again in early January.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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