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Deputies: Pinellas Park man bilked $123,000 in cash, property from 79-year-old disabled veteran

PINELLAS PARK — He is 79, a disabled veteran living on a fixed income of Social Security and military benefits.

But in 2008 he kept bouncing checks. So he signed over power of attorney to his nephew so that the younger man could manage his financial and legal affairs, authorities said.

"He thought that would prevent him from spending all his money," said Pinellas Sgt. Tom Nestor, "that it would keep him on a budget."

Instead, deputies said the disabled veteran was wiped out.

The nephew, Gary Goodrow, is accused of bilking nearly $123,000 in cash and property from his uncle over the past three years.

The 58-year-old Pinellas Park man was charged Sunday with grand theft from a person 65 years or older.

The disabled veteran was not identified by the Sheriff's Office.

He gets about $40,000 a year in benefits and had a $50,000 condo in St. Petersburg.

After obtaining power of attorney, an arrest report said, Goodrow made his first cash withdrawal from his uncle's SunTrust Bank account on April 1, 2008: $1,020.

Goodrow was supposed to be using the money to pay the 79-year-old man's bills, deputies said.

But just two weeks later, on April 14, the report said Goodrow made a second withdrawal: $500.

The pattern continued for the next 40 months, the report said, as multiple withdrawals of cash were made over-the-counter each month. The smallest transaction was for $46 on Feb. 4, 2010. The biggest transaction: $3,400, which was withdrawn twice this summer.

The last transaction was $600 withdrawn on Aug. 1.

"He was depleting the victim's savings," Nestor said, "and whatever money he didn't use on bills he took for himself."

In all, deputies said that almost $73,000 was taken from the man's accounts. Then in September, deputies said, Goodrow filed a quit claim deed, transferring ownership of his uncle's condo to himself.

The two men had lived together in the condo, deputies said, until the uncle remarried and moved out. But Goodrow changed the locks and wouldn't let his uncle back in, deputies said.

The Sheriff's Office could not say Monday when the 79-year-old man realized what was going on, or what prompted him to report his nephew to the Sheriff's Office in November. The uncle was aware that he had to go to court to take back power of attorney, officials said, but could not say what legal action he has taken since then.

Goodrow, who was booked into the Pinellas County Jail, was released on his own recognizance Monday. A relative said he did not wish to comment.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8472.

Deputies: Pinellas Park man bilked $123,000 in cash, property from 79-year-old disabled veteran 12/19/11 [Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2011 10:08pm]
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