LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office and Alabama Attorney General’s Office confirmed that Judge Douglas Patterson was indicted on multiple charges and arrested Thursday morning.
According to the sheriff’s office, Patterson was booked into the jail this morning and released on a $30,000 bond.
Patterson was indicted for theft, using his position for personal gain, and financial exploitation of the elderly.
The state attorney general’s office is leading the investigation. According to the AG’s office, Patterson was arrested by Special Agents from both the AG’s office and the FBI.
Patterson is now formally suspended from serving as a district court judge according to the AG’s Office. His caseload had previously been reassigned to other county judges.
The AG’s office says Patterson was appointed as a district court judge for Limestone County in 2016 by former Gov. Robert Bentley. Before becoming a judge, Patterson worked as a local attorney who took on assignments as a conservator for incapacitated persons. According to the AG’s office, Patterson was indicted for wrongdoing that took place before and after he was appointed a judge.
Patterson was indicted by a special grand jury after Limestone County judicial officials and employees came forward with concerns about Patterson. Those officials and employees cooperated with AG investigators.
- First count: use of official position or office for personal gain. According to the AG’s office, while serving as district judge, Patterson used his position to obtain more than $47,008.24 from the county’s Juvenile Court Services Fund. That money is supposed to be used for juvenile court system operations. According to the AG investigators, Patterson wrote about 70 checks to himself from the Juvenile Court Services Fund. The checks were cashed or deposited into his personal and business accounts according to the AG’s office.
- Second count: financial exploitation of the elderly. AG investigators allege that Patterson took advantage of an elderly man for whom he served as a conservator or guardian prior to and after becoming a judge. The elderly man was living in a Limestone County nursing home for veterans. When Patterson took over as conservator, the man had $43,000 in his account according to the AG’s office, by December 2016 it contained less than $200. The AG’s office also alleges that Patterson deposited this money into private and business accounts.
- Third count: theft of property. The AG’s office alleges that Patterson stole money from the estate of a deceased man through deception. According to the AG’s office, this dollar amount was somewhere between $499 and $1,500.
If convicted, the first two charges are Class B felonies punishable by two to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000 each. The theft charge is a Class D felony punishable by a year and one day or up to five years in prison and a fine up to $7,500.
“To ensure the integrity of Alabama’s judicial system, Alabama judges swear an oath to faithfully and honestly perform the duties of their office,” said Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall. “The allegations contained in this indictment shock the conscience and illustrate a callous and selfish disregard for the law as well as the welfare of Alabama’s most vulnerable citizens: children and incapacitated seniors. If proven, Patterson’s actions debase the judicial system. I call on the trial court to hold a trial as soon as possible to begin the process of restoring the Limestone County community’s faith in its judicial system.”
FBI Birmingham Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Jonnie Sharp Jr., said, “When public officials misdirect money for personal gain, they’re breaching public trust – and breaking the law. Such corruption must not go unchecked. The public can be assured that no matter how long it takes, the FBI and our partners will investigate and work to hold accountable unscrupulous public officials.”