NBC 10 I-Team: Mysterious transactions of Bob Healey prompt probe
His hair was wispy and long, so too was his salt-and-pepper beard. Bob Healey had an eccentric style and he connected with Rhode Island voters like a rock star during the 2014 campaign for governor.
22% of voters that year wanted someone outside of the two-party system. Healey was their candidate, representing the Moderate party after originally founding the Cool Moose party in prior runs for office. "I have no regrets. I've lived a charmed life,” he said at an NBC 10 debate.
In March of 2016, Healey, a lifelong bachelor, died suddenly at 58. For a lawyer who handled wills and estates, now Healey's own wishes and more than $1.4 million in assets were to be dispersed.
His last will and testament is filled with what some call classic Healey. He asked that his body be “stuffed and maintained in a glass cabinet and attend my one year death anniversary party.”
Healey lived very modestly, but owned homes in Barrington, Warren, land in Connecticut and four parcels as far away as Uruguay.
His probate file has the usual claims against one’s estate: unpaid bills, taxes, and mortgages that need payment. And then there are the not-so-average claims.
Healey had written an unpublished book, “The King Needs Sleep.” Records show a Warren woman filed a $30,000 claim, plus publishing royalties to his estate. She had apparently worked on illustrations for the book and wanted payment.
In those Barrington probate court records, the NBC 10 I-Team uncovered an interesting connection between lawyers settling Healey's accounts, and others who were looking for money missing from a different estate.
Alice Correia of Bristol died in 2013. Healey was the trustee of the Correia family trust, which left money to loved ones.
Those loved ones are now raising questions about some of Healey's bookkeeping. Here’s an example: $115,000 was withdrawn from the trust and immediately deposited into Healey's attorney account - known as an IOLTA (Interest on lawyer trust account) from 2013 to 2015.
“An IOLTA account is an account that attorneys have, that's exclusive to attorneys for purposes of holding money for clients,” said NBC 10 legal analyst and attorney Mark Dana.
But why would an attorney deposit $115,000 (in three separate transactions) from a family trust into his attorney account? “I have no idea. Only he can answer that. I wouldn't do it,” said Thomas “Tucker” Wright. Wright is an attorney in Warren, searching for answers into Healey's mysterious withdrawals from the Correia trust.
Wright hired accountants, the CPA firm DiSanto Priest and Company, to do an audit. Besides the unexplained $115 thousand dollars, Wright found about $20,000 in petty cash that was taken out of the Correia account and put into a separate Healey escrow account.
“Bob was a good friend of mine. I don't think he meant to steal any money at all. It's just sloppy book keeping,” added Wright.
Attorney Mark Dana called the move perplexing. “It is highly unusual, but having said that, there could have been some aspect of that trust that required Mr. Healey to do that.”
In an order, Barrington probate Judge Marvin Homonoff said the Healey IOLTA money isn’t a matter for probate court.
Attorney Wright will now take his case to state Superior Court. He's still on the hunt for the missing money, which may be sitting in a lawyer's account two years after his death.