Gayle Killilea Dunne’s former US lawyer disbarred

Phillip Teplan was disbarred after complaint by Ms Dunne over misappropriation of funds

It was Gayle Killilea Dunne’s first business foray into the US and not a happy one. She was ripped off by her lawyer, who stole half a million in dollars within weeks of her wiring it to his account.

But nearly four years later she has earned some revenge as the lawyer, Phillip Teplen, has been disbarred and cannot even start to move for reinstatement for seven years. This followed her complaint he misappropriated the money, supposed to be used to persuade immigration authorities to grant her a US investment visa.

Philip Teplen, who has remained a key background figure as Nama has pursued Sean Dunne through the Connecticut bankruptcy court, was forced to resign as a lawyer in New York

Mr Teplen agreed to step down from the bar because he knew the charges would warrant disbarment from the profession. He has admitted he used an escrow account containing $500,000 sent by Ms Dunne from Switzerland in 2010 for his own personal use. Perhaps to fund the medical care of his mistress, the former gossip columnist suggested in an affidavit in a civil action filed with the New York Supreme Court shortly after the money went missing.


Mr Teplen, the now former immigration lawyer, has featured in Sean Dunne’s ongoing bankruptcy case. A $2.2millon house in Greenwich, 38 Bush Avenue, was bought through him as trustee, with Ms Dunne as the beneficiary. It was later sold for $5.5million, at about the same time Nama began its legal action in a Connecticut state court claiming Mr Dunne tried to hide his personal benefit from a series of property deals in the US and Switzerland. That action has been stayed until the bankruptcy case is over.

Just last month, Nama filed a motion to be allowed to question Mr Teplen. Ms Dunne’s lawyers filed an objection. At the end of June, the New York Supreme Court issued its order, that Mr Teplen be “stricken from the roll of attorneys and counselors-at-law in the State of New York.”

It was the end of process started by Ms Dunne in December 2012 and filed with the court’s disciplinary committee alleging conversion of escrow funds.

Ms Dunne had wired the half a million on November 18th, 2010, but on December 10th asked for $170,000 she wanted for a different investment.

“By that date, respondent had depleted all of the $500,000 Ms Dunne had wired into his escrow account,” the June 24th order noted drily .

Ms Dunne launched a legal action on St Stephen’s Day 2010, zeroing in on the “sorry state” of Mr Teplen’s

finances, including his ex-wife’s debts and the foreclosure of his former home. But she also suggested he may have “raided the escrow account to pay his family’s healthcare expenses”, referring to his mistress. Mr Teplen, arguing he was not completely focussed on business affairs, referred to her in correspondence with Ms Dunne as she tried to pin him down about the money.

In April 2011, Mr Teplen agreed to pay back the money and claims he did so. But that is disputed, the order noted.