To those who knew him, Rex Smith was once an outgoing, trusting person who would help anybody.
That was until the 81-year-old Oklahoma City man was victimized by a seasoned scam artist who talked him into withdrawing $20,000 from a bank in 2008 and then stole it with the help of an accomplice.
“I worked hard for that money,” Smith testified at a preliminary hearing for Willie Ray Williams in 2010.
“My wife done without stuff in order to save that money in case one of us got sick and had to have it.”
Smith died in November a broken man, his relatives said.
Rocky Smith told investigators his father didn't leave the house after the incident and mostly moped and cried.
Williams, a 73-year-old felon with a rap sheet dating to 1961, was sentenced Friday to eight years in prison after admitting he helped swindle Rex Smith out of the money, which the son said has since been repaid, according to court papers.
Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obtain money by false pretenses and obtaining money by false pretenses.
He has felony cases pending in two counties, court records show.
Prosecutors alleged Williams and another man convinced Smith to withdraw $20,000 after Williams told Smith he inherited $200,000 but kept most of the money in a bus station locker because he didn't trust banks.
Smith met Williams at a gas station and agreed to give him a ride to a fast-food restaurant where Williams made contact with co-defendant Thomas Powell Brewer.
Brewer deceived Smith into thinking he withdrew $20,000 from a bank to show Williams banks could be trusted, and offered to pay Smith $5,000 if he would withdraw $20,000 to prove the point, the victim testified at the preliminary hearing for both defendants.
Smith told the judge he withdrew the money because he wanted to show the men banks could be trusted.
“I was brought up to trust people,” Smith said. “I was trying to help them. They broke my trust in people.”
Smith said he wanted to run over the men with his car after they took his money and ran.
“I was going to take it back to the bank,” Smith testified.
Brewer, 70, pleaded no contest to the charges in April 2011 and received a 20-year suspended sentence. He was ordered to pay restitution, court records show.