LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - Limestone County District Court Judge Douglas Patterson was booked into the Limestone County Jail on Thursday morning.
A sheriff's office spokesman confirmed that Patterson, 37, was booked on charges of third-degree theft, financial exploitation of the elderly and using his position for personal gain. The spokesman said Patterson was at the jail for about 30 minutes and posted $30,000 around 9 a.m.
Patterson was appointed a judge in 2016 by former governor 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.
Patterson is accused of stealing tens of 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.
Patterson also is accused of taking money before becoming a judge. 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 and left less than $200 in it when he was done. Hardy, who was living in a nursing home for military veterans, has since died.
Another person Patterson worked for as a conservator, Rudolph Allen, also had between $499 and $1,500 taken from his estate's account after his death, prosecutors said.
In all of the cases where money was taken, it was placed into accounts for Patterson's business, law firm or personal use, according to the attorney general's office.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a news release that Patterson's actions "debase the judicial system."
"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," Marshall said.
Patterson faces up to 20 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine for each charge of using his position for personal gain and financial exploitation of the elderly. He faces up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine for the theft charge.