Grover Gordon is a survivor. He bears the scars of war. But these days, this 82-year-old Korean War veteran is fighting another battle, a battle over a stolen inheritance.
"She had me completely buffaloed," said Gordon. "And since you don't know nothing, you can't say anything."
Gordon is talking about Sydney Kirkland, an Escondido, Calif. attorney hired to take care of Gordon's finances. But she did more than that.
Gordon received more than $280,000 from a trust that was left to him after the death of his good friend, Bobbi Letman.
Kirkland was Letman's attorney, so when the money changed hands, Kirkland added her own name as a co-trustee and beneficiary of the trust.
"He didn't have a family, he needed someone to trust," said Escondido police detective Tom Phelps. "And this person totally took advantage of him."
Within weeks of adding her name to the trust, Sydney Kirkland started taking money out of the inheritance. After just a few months, the $285,729 was down to $10,096. She had taken more than $275,000 without Gordon's knowledge.
"He didn't understand how trusts work," said Detective Phelps. "He feels totally betrayed."
But Grover Gordon noticed something was wrong.
He got a property bill that he thought was paid for by his attorney. That prompted him to hire a second attorney to investigate, and that's when the deception started to unravel.
"I'm telling you, boy, it's a shock, a terrible shock," said Gordon.
The Missouri native quickly found out that his money was gone. Investigators were called in, and eventually Kirkland admitted what she had done.
Det. Phelps said Kirkland had started living the high life, paying off debts, donating to charity and flying to Europe with her antique Packard to drive around France.
She even posted photos of the trip on her Facebook page.
"I did something horrible, I can't imagine how this could have happened," Kirkland told Vista Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz on Monday.
She pleaded guilty to three felony charges including grand theft, embezzlement and financial abuse of an elder and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
Kirkland has also been ordered to pay back the money to Gordon that she stole from him.