Lacey died at age 89 on May 1, 2007. At the time of her death, Hale was named beneficiary of Lacey’s will - a shock to her close friends and surrogate family who later contested the will in probate court. They said Lacey distrusted and disliked Hale because he badgered her for money.
Judge Mary Ann Sahagian threw out that will, however, and approved an earlier will leaving everything to James Wareing, Wareing’s mother Joan McGuire and his two twin sisters, Denise Clegg and Diane Forrester, all Lawrence natives.
Hale then appealed Sahagian’s decision, prompting tomorrow’s hearing.
Both wills were prepared by a longtime acquaintance of Hale, lawyer Robert Kelley, who was previously the Northern Essex Register of Deeds. Kelley and Hale were also drinking buddies, according to court papers.
In both the probate and civil trials after Lacey’s death, Hale repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when asked if he cashed and deposited checks belonging to her. Sahagian referred Hale’s behavior to the District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office.
In late January, a state trooper filed the forgery and larceny charges against Hale. He’s accused of cashing $2,850 of Lacey’s pension checks and almost entirely draining a checking account that contained $66,000.
Lacey owned a home at 418 Andover St., which was worth $175,000 at the time of her death. She had another $170,000 in her savings and checking accounts.
In April 2012, 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.
Hale is the son of a man Lacey dated in the 1950s. His relationship with Lacey and the dispute over the wills was exposed in a July 24, 2011 Sunday Eagle-Tribune article.
Bryan Kerman, the Methuen attorney representing the Wareing and McGuire families, declined comment for this story.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.