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September 15, 2011

City lawyer charged with stealing $262K from mother-in-law

SALEM, Mass. — Haverhill lawyer Richard Hayes is charged with stealing $262,434 from a trust intended for the children of his late mother-in-law.

He also faces civil suit filed by three of his mother-in-law's children. They accuse Hayes of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars more in money and real estate from them and their children.

Hayes, 58, who has a law office at 1146 Main St., Haverhill, was arraigned yesterday in Salem Superior Court. He was indicted in July by a grand jury on two counts of larceny over $250 for allegedly stealing the money from the estate of his mother-in-law, Margaret Clark, after her death in November 2009. She was 88.

Hayes is charged with receiving and converting to his own use $262,434 in trust payments to Clark over a 10-month period following her death. Hayes, who pleaded not guilty yesterday, glared at a reporter and refused to speak when asked for comment outside the courthouse. Hayes' lawyer William Delaney refused to comment when reached later at his office.

Judge David Lowy continued the criminal case to Nov. 10 for a pretrial hearing.

A civil suit filed in Lawrence Superior Court by three of Clark's surviving children accuses Hayes of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars more in money and real estate from them and Clark's 11 grandchildren.

Clark's eldest son, Eben Clark of Vineyard Haven, and two daughters, Margaret Towle of Colorado and Elizabeth Clark of Groveland, are suing Hayes and his wife, Catharine Hayes, and their business, Cool Moo Classic Fresh Ice Cream in Haverhill. They are seeking an amount to be determined by the court. Catharine Hayes is Margaret Clark's fourth surviving child.

The lawsuit alleges Richard and Catharine Hayes took $564,054 they were not entitled to from Clark's trust from 2005 until the elderly woman's death. It also says Richard Hayes' misconduct as Clark's lawyer, including his failure to pay taxes on Clark's assets during the time he was overseeing her affairs, has cost her other children $542,935.

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