A former American Ireland Fund director being sued by the charity for alleged embezzlement is objecting to details of her credit card spending on healthcare, lingerie and a political donation being disclosed in the case.
Karla Stover, formerly director of the charity's Texas region, has challenged the release of subpoenaed credit card records from American Express as part of the fund's US legal action against her.
The charity claims that Ms Stover, who worked as a fundraiser for it from 2014 to early 2018, stole money from the organisation by creating fictitious companies and charged the fund for services never performed. She has denied “each and every allegation” made in the Texas legal action.
In documents filed in a civil court in Dallas this week, Ms Stover objects to details of more than 30 transactions on her American Express card being disclosed as potential evidence in the action under discovery orders covering her dealings with US banks and online payments firms and retailers.
She is contesting the production of American Express credit card records on more than 25 payments to a healthcare provider and a pharmacy dating back to September 2014, five purchases from a lingerie shop dating from March 2015 to November 2016, and a political donation made in October 2016, two weeks before the US presidential election.
Ms Stover is objecting to their release on the grounds that the records are not relevant to the legal action and that the request for the records is “overly broad and constitutes a fishing expedition”.
She argues that her medical history is not an issue in the case and that the request for the records is “unduly burdensome, harassing and oppressive”, according to records filed in court earlier this week.
The charity claims in its legal action that Ms Stover "caused" the charity to pay her son, Robert Joseph Stover, a co-defendant to the action, more than $330,000 (€286,000), which he transferred back to her.
Mr Stover has also denied the allegations in filed court records. The US-based charity discovered the alleged fraud in March 2018 and began the legal action against the mother and son in May.
It is also alleged that Ms Stover fraudulently charged the charity for a personal holiday to Ireland and Italy for herself, her son and two others by submitting false invoices claiming that it was a business trip.
The charity is seeking damages of between $200,000 and $1 million in the case, court records show.
In separate records filed by the fund with Internal Revenue Service, the US tax authority, late last year, the charity estimates the amount at $579,000. It alleges that $330,000 was “misappropriated” in 2016 and a further $249,000 in 2017. Ms Stover is not named in the documents.
The charity has since carried out an independent review of its financial controls and revised its policies and procedures concerning procurement, hiring procedures and the oversight of financial activities.
State of Texas district judge Gena Slaughter last month set aside two weeks in the court's schedule for a non-jury trial starting on October 21st, 2019.
The American Ireland Fund, a long-standing charity also known as the Ireland Funds, is a major philanthropic foundation that has raised $600 million for various causes north and south of the Border since it was founded by businessmen Sir Anthony O'Reilly and the late Dan Rooney in 1976.