Celebrity chef arrested in New York on extradition warrant

 

Irish celebrity chef Mr Conrad Gallagher has been arrested in New York as a fugitive, on the basis of an extradition warrant issued by a court in Dublin, a spokesman for the US attorney's office in New York said last night, writes Conor O'Clery.

Mr Gallagher was detained by US marshals at home in Brooklyn on Thursday evening, according to Lt Brian Burke of the New York Police Department. He was due to appear late yesterday before Magistrate Gold in Brooklyn Federal Court to answer the extradition charge.

Mr Gallagher, formerly of Killiney, Co Dublin, faces charges in relation to three paintings worth €11,000 which he allegedly sold in December 2000. The paintings were claimed to be the property of the Fitzwilliam Hotel, St Stephen's Green, Dublin, the location of Mr Gallagher's Peacock Alley restaurant.

The Donegal-born chef was due to face trial in Ireland on October 15th after notifying the court he would be pleading not guilty. The trial had originally been set for July. When his lawyers applied for a further delay, Judge Elizabeth Dunne was told that he had married a woman from the US in September and was applying for US citizenship.

Judge Dunne refused the application, saying: "Unless Mr Gallagher got married on the strength of a fleeting glance across a room, then he would have known about his wedding in July." She said he had already received more than enough leeway in the matter.

A warrant was issued for his arrest in November, allowing the prosecution to seek an extradition warrant. Mr Gallagher has since said he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 and is undergoing his third course of chemotherapy, making him unfit to travel.

His lawyer promised the court in Dublin he would return for trial but in an interview with the Times of London last month, he stated, "I'm never going back. I left there a burned out, f***ed up guy of 31. So do I give a s**t about Ireland? Not one bit." Mr Gallagher, who has lost seven restaurants through financial problems, married Jennifer Harrison from California in September and they opened a lounge called Traffic in Manhattan. Calls to that venue went unanswered yesterday.

The youngest chef to earn a Michelin star, Mr Gallagher launched a new cookbook just last month.