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Phoenix News – As Helpless As Children

Phoenix New Times
by Paul Rubin

In 1990, Mackey credited the Reichwein estate with even less rent money, just $7,200. That year cost Delores Reichwein $38,442 in room and board at her own home. That sum doesn’t include the hourly fees billed by Legg, Mackey and their minions.

In 1991, Delores Reichwein’s estate paid another $43,000 for her room and board, and collected just $8,000 from the home’s other residents. But Wayne Legg’s mother paid nothing for the months she lived in the Contessa House before her death that April.

@sub:Hints of Trouble
@body:Things began to unravel after Legg convinced Philip and Geneva Holmes to move to Arizona in 1989. They were a Kentucky couple he had known for decades and with whom he had family ties. Legg promised Geneva Holmes $2,000 per month and free use of what he said was a “company van.”

She spent hours each day driving the van around the East Valley to check on his wards. At night she’d give Mackey a detailed report over the phone.

A long time passed before Geneva Holmes discovered something troubling. “Here I was, writing down my time,” she says, “and Webber was charging those people, too. I found out he was just, like, double-dipping them.”

In 1991, for example, Mackey claimed to have visited Delores Reichwein at the Contessa House 45 times. He also billed the estate for 39 visits by Geneva Holmes. His records indicate that many of the pair’s visits occurred on the same day.

On Valentine’s Day, 1990, Mackey drove over to the Contessa House from his Mesa office. His own records show he joined the five women living there at the time for an hourlong lunch.

Later, he charged each ward for the visit and for the mileage to and from the house. The luncheon made him a quick $200. Mackey charged his wards for everything. He’d buy an elderly ward, say, a box of candy, and would deliver it in person. Later, he’d bill the ward’s estate for the candy, the time it took to deliver it and the mileage expended.

Mackey also billed estates for hour after hour he allegedly spent “in conference” with Wayne Legg. Legg’s hourly rate–$200 per hour, in recent years–was also in effect during most of those conversations.

The two sent their bills to the Probate Court for official sanction. New Times could find no instance in which the court denied them.

In mid-1991, Wayne Legg invited Kentucky salesman Mike Smith to take over the Contessa group home. Smith says Legg promised him free rein, and offered him the post of Contessa House Ltd. president.

As the months went by, Smith also noted Webber Mackey’s unending “overcharging, the excessive charges.” It angered Smith that he was paying Geneva Holmes and that Mackey was charging the wards’ estates for the same services.

“I was paying Geneva Holmes to take these people to the doctors and places like that,” Smith says. “[Then] they get charged again. . . . It’s a joy ride for [Mackey].”
Contessa House Ltd. didn’t prove to be nearly the windfall Mike Smith had hoped for, but he tried to make a go of it for about a year. In early 1992, however, Wayne Legg told him that the home would be shutting down.

“He was saying that his [law] partners wanted it closed,” Smith said in a sworn statement. “I had no intention of closing the business. He come and said, ‘All these residents gotta go.’”
Embittered by his experience in Mesa, Mike Smith resolved to learn more about why Wayne Legg had shut down the Contessa House.

“There was some problems that had come about about the van,” Smith says. “The van that was owned by Rosalie Steele and Chester Brewer.”

@sub:The Van
@body:Mike Smith recalls the moment he learned that two of Wayne Legg and Webber Mackey’s ward-clients owned the “company” van.

“I was shocked,” says Smith, who returned a few months ago to his native Kentucky. “I thought, ‘Why would Rosalie and Chester need a van, when both of them are incompetent people?’”
But Smith only knew the half of it. New Times’ investigation shows that Mackey purchased the 1989 Dodge Caravan for about $17,000, with money from the estates of Rosalie Steele and Chester Brewer, two wards under his legal control. Mackey then established a checking account at Security Pacific Bank in the name of Webber Mackey Van Account.

Nine ward-clients of Legg and Mackey then paid about $100 each per month “to defray expenses,” Mackey later told Court Commissioner Elizabeth Yancey. Those “expenses” added up to $16,892 over an 18-month period, and didn’t include his or Geneva Holmes’ hourly fees.

Mackey’s records show that Chester Brewer’s estate paid $1,875 to the “van account” during an 18-month period. During that time, says Geneva Holmes, Brewer rode in his vehicle fewer than five times.

“I probably took Chester three times to get his hair cut,” she says. “I also took him to get new glasses and have his eyes examined.”
It’s not certain how many times Rosalie Steele rode in the van she co-owned. Once in 1990, however, Mackey charged Steele’s estate $140 to take her to a Methodist church service honoring Wayne Legg.

Several people allege that Legg, sometimes with family members, took the van on vacation trips to the Grand Canyon, California, Las Vegas, Disney World and Kentucky. This happened, court documents show, while Mackey was collecting the monthly “service fee” from his wards’ estates.

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