LAWRENCE — Retired Lawrence police officer William Hale was scheduled to be arraigned in Lawrence District Court yesterday on charges he allegedly bilked tens of thousands of dollars from an elderly city woman — but instead his lawyer showed up with a medical note.
An arrest warrant was issued for Hale when he did not come to court as scheduled. Later in the day, an attorney presented the note on Hale’s behalf to the court and the warrant was cleared.
Hale, 77, a 33-year Lawrence police veteran, is now scheduled for arraignment on Feb. 15 for allegedly stealing from Elizabeth B. Lacey, a woman known to her close friends and her surrogate family as “Aunt Betty.”
Hale is charged with uttering, forgery and larceny over $250. He faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted of uttering and forgery and as much as five years in jail if found guilty of the larceny charge.
The thefts and forgery Hale is accused of occurred between May 3, 2007 and Sept. 5, 2007. Lacey died at age 89 on May 1, 2007.
In April, in a civil action, Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley placed an attachment on Hale’s 7 Meadow St. home to recoup money he took from Lacey.
The attachment was for $70,000, nearly half the valuation of Hale’s three-bedroom house, which is assessed at $147,200, according to city records.
After Lacey’s death, in probate and civil trials, Hale repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when asked if he cashed and deposited checks belonging to Lacey.
In the state police report filed last week, Trooper Steven Buccheri wrote the following:
Between May 3, 2007 and Sept. 5, 2007, Hale forged Lacey’s name and cashed six pension checks in the amount of $2,850.
Also, at the time of her death, Lacey had $66,000 in a Sovereign Bank checking account. The day after she died, Hale signed his name to two checks totalling $9,000, deposited them into his account and immediately withdrew the cash.