Irish solicitor jailed for fraud

A HIGH-FLYING Irish solicitor, who once bid over £1 million for a Dublin football club, has been jailed for five years for fraud.

A judge in the Circuit Criminal Court in Dublin was told that Elio Malocco was likely to be struck off by the Incorporated Law Society.

He has been suspended since 1991, when the society impounded files and closed his high-profile Dublin practice.

Malocco, who qualified at 20 and was rarely out of the headlines after, has been in prison for almost two months, awaiting sentence. He had been found guilty after an 11-day trial of defrauding Irish Press Newspapers, of which he was a director and worked as a libel lawyer, of £68,500.

He had misappropriated money given to him by the company to settle libel cases, forging receipts and documents to escape detection. The company's chief executive, Vincent Jennings, testified that the total misappropriated amount came to “at least £312,000”.

The money was refunded by the Incorporated Law Society, which is also reported to have faced claims from other clients totalling more than £500,000.

Malocco, the son of Italian immigrants, made his mark at University College in Dublin, where he became the youngest auditor of the Law Society. He also became a member of Sinn Fein in the early 1970s, but left the party after the Birmingham bombings and moved to Fianna Fail, the party then in government in the Irish Republic.

Malocco often made the headlines. Among other cases, he represented the so-called IRA priest, Fr Paddy Ryan, in successfully resisting extradition to Britain.

In business, a Dublin restaurant venture collapsed with debts of £335,000. He then made an unsuccessful £1.2 million bid to take over Shelbourne football club and its Tolka Park grounds.

His counsel, John Coughlan, pleaded for leniency, saying Malocco would in all probability be struck off, which “courts considered a greater punishment than imprisonment”.

Coughlan revealed that during an incident in 1991, Malocco had “negotiated with a mentally unbalanced man who was holding an infant hostage at gun and knifepoint” in a house near Dublin. A detective agreed with counsel that the solicitor had “shown great courage” in resolving the matter peacefully.

But the judge, Mr Justice Dominic Lynch, said Malocco had made no attempt at restitution over the money he had misappropriated. He was a

solicitor who had been entrusted with funds and who had abused that trust.

Malocco: defrauded Irish Press Newspapers of £68,500