Ex-officer dies without paying ‘Aunt Betty’ fraud judgment (MA)

LAWRENCE — A retired city police officer who admitted bilking a frail widow of tens of thousands of dollars has died without repaying any of the money to her heirs.

William Hale Sr. was ordered by a Lawrence District Court judge last October to pay $70,000 restitution to the heirs of Elizabeth Lacey. But he had not repaid any of the money at the time of his death earlier this month.

Hale died of natural causes on April 16 at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, according to a copy of his death certificate. No obituary was published. Hale, in court documents, previously said he was undergoing treatment for cancer.

Hale, a 33-year Lawrence police veteran, admitted there were sufficient facts to find him guilty of forging checks and stealing from Lacey after befriending her. Lacey died at age 89 on May 1, 2007.

Bryan Kerman, a Methuen attorney representing Lacey’s legal heirs, said he is exploring options to recoup the money Hale owed and declined further comment.

State police filed criminal charges accusing Hale of cashing $66,000 in checks belonging to Lacey after he repeatedly invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned about the checks during a Probate Court trial over her will.

Hale’s predatory relationship with Lacey was first exposed in a July 24, 2011, Sunday Eagle-Tribune story.

Lacey, who was known to her friends as “Aunt Betty,” had no living relatives at the time of her death. But members of her surrogate family were shocked to learn of a will that left everything to Hale, including her home at 418 Andover St. in Lawrence. They challenged the will’s validity in Essex County Probate Court.

In July 2011, Probate Court Judge Mary Ann Sahagian threw out the Hale will and recognized an earlier will leaving Lacey’s estate to James Wareing; Wareing’s mother, Joan McGuire; and his twin sisters, Denise Clegg and Diane Forrester. Wareing, his mother and sisters had been Lacey’s friends and adopted family for decades.

The heirs said Lacey would have never left her estate to Hale, a man she disliked because he badgered her for money.

Hale admitted to cashing $66,000 in pension checks to Lacey and checks written on her Sovereign Bank savings account.

In addition to owning her own home, Lacey also had $170,000 in her savings and checking accounts when she died.

Hale appealed Sahagian’s decision on Lacey’s will to the state Appeals Court. That court also rejected his claim to the will and in its decision said he used “undue influence” on Lacey. In the decision, the appeals court added Hale “appears to have engaged in a broader scheme to misappropriate Lacey’s assets.”

On April 15, Hale was scheduled to be in Lawrence District Court for a probation hearing. When he didn’t show up, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He died the following day. He was 78.

The Wareing and McGuire family already has a $70,000 lien on Hale’s home at 7 Meadow St. in Lawrence. Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley ordered a $70,000 attachment placed on the home in a 2012 civil action against Hale.

Foreclosure proceedings were also started on Hale’s property for failure to pay a $143,000 mortgage to Deutsche Bank. And the city of Lawrence also has a lien for unpaid taxes on the home, according to Northern Essex Registry of Deeds documents.


Ex-officer dies without paying ‘Aunt Betty’ fraud judgment
Jill Harmacinski
April 30, 2014