Lacey’s first will, leaving everything to the Wareing and McGuire families, was prepared by Lawrence attorney Robert Kelley on Sept. 26, 2000, according to court documents.
In November 2000, Lacey called Hale for help repairing a boiler in her Andover Street home. After that, Hale started bringing her lunch on a daily basis and taking her out to lunch weekly, according to court documents.
On May 8, 2001, Lacey’s second will was executed by Kelley.
Kelley, the former Essex County Register of Deeds, is also Hale’s attorney and “a long time friend and drinking companion.” The second will left everything to Hale and in the event of his death, Hale’s son, according to court papers.
In a statement issued by their attorney, the McQuire and Wareing families applauded the appeals court decision.
“The three judge panel strongly reaffirmed the Probate Court’s finding of wrongdoing and harshly criticized the conduct giving rise to the unlawful will. While the family’s quest for justice for Aunt Betty is not yet complete, the appeals court decision is a significant leap forward,” said attorney Bryan Kerman of Methuen.
Family members previously said Lacey would never have left her estate to Hale, a man she disliked because he badgered her for money. Hale is the son of a man Lacey dated in the 1950s.
In 2012, in a civil action against the retired police officer, Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley placed a $70,000 attachment on Hale’s 7 Meadow St. home in Lawrence.
Lacey owned a home at 418 Andover St. valued at $175,000 at the time of her death. She also had $170,000 in savings and checking accounts.
After his arraignment this spring on the larceny and forgery charges, Hale was released on personal recognizance. He was ordered to stay away from the victims in the case.
His criminal arraignment on the charges was delayed several times due to Hale’s claims of ongoing illness and hospitalizations.
Uttering and forgery convictions carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. The larceny charge carries a 5-year maximum jail sentence.
Hale could not be reached for comment for this story.
Hale’s relationship with Lacey and the dispute over her wills was first exposed in a July 24, 2011, Sunday Eagle-Tribune story.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.