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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. – Former Limestone County Judge Douglas Patterson was sentenced to 4 years in prison, during a hearing in Athens Tuesday.

After entering a not guilty plea earlier this year, Patterson pleaded guilty in October to all three counts of his indictment: using his position or office for personal gain; financial exploitation of the elderly in the first degree, and theft of property in the third degree.

For two of the counts, Patterson will serve a split 16-year sentence. Four years will be spent in prison, with 6 years of probation. The remainder of the 16 years would be suspended once the probation period is complete. Patterson was sentenced to two years in prison on the third count.

Patterson will serve his sentences concurrently for all three counts, for a total of four years in prison.

Patterson is also ordered to pay restitution totaling $72,822 to his victims:

  • $25k to Jessica Hardy
  • $47k to the Limestone County Juvenile Fund
  • $600 to the estate of Rudolph Allen

The court ordered all restitutions to be paid by 2029, which would be 5 years after he is released from prison.

Patterson was appointed a judge in 2016 by former Gov. Robert Bentley. Prior to that he worked as an attorney, including work as a conservator for incapacitated people, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office said.

He was indicted in December 2019.

“It is fitting that Patterson has received a stern sentence for his crimes and that we have brought a measure of justice for his victims,” said Attorney General Marshall. “He betrayed the citizens of Limestone County and exploited those who trusted him, stealing from the most vulnerable among us—children, the disabled and the elderly. This sentence serves to restore the public confidence in our judicial system and sends a strong warning that such despicable actions will not be tolerated, and all will be held equally to account under the law.”

FBI Birmingham Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr., said, “Everyone, even judges, are subject to the rule of law. The sentence handed down today demonstrates the FBI’s firm commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to address public corruption at every level and hold public officials accountable when they violate the law, their oath of office and the public’s trust.”

Patterson pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars by writing about 70 checks to himself from the Limestone County Juvenile Court Services Fund over a period of years. More than $47,000 that was supposed to go to juvenile programs and juvenile court staff among other things, prosecutors said.

Two weeks ago prosecutors filed a briefing arguing for prison time for Patterson. The filing argued Patterson deserved five years in prison, with another 10 years on probation for the crimes.

“The audacity and wickedness of Patterson’s crimes cannot be overstated: he stole from the disabled, he stole from the dead, and he stole from the children of Limestone County,” the filing argued. “In short, Patterson stole from those who couldn’t protect themselves. While every thief deserves condemnation, Patterson falls in a category all his own.”

According to the attorney general’s office, Patterson took $47,800 from the conservatorship account of Charles Hardy. Over a six and a half year period, prosecutors said Patterson drained the account, leaving less than $200 when he was done.

In November, presiding Limestone County Judge Robert Baker filed a detailed letter arguing he didn’t believe Patterson’s actions exemplified remorse. Baker is not directly involve in Patterson’s case. Baker wrote that he believes the guilty plea was a tactic to avoid a trial that would’ve exposed even more details.