From The Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — Attorney General Steve Marshall announced on Tuesday that former Limestone County district judge Douglas Lee Patterson has been sentenced to serve four years in prison.
Patterson pleaded guilty on Oct. 30 to three felony charges: use of official position or office for personal gain, financial exploitation of the elderly in the first degree, and theft of property in the third degree.
He is set to serve four years in prison followed by six years of supervised probation. Patterson, according to a news release from Marshall, is required to serve all of the four years in prison, and if he fails to abide by the terms of probation, he could be ordered to serve another 12 years in prison. He was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $72,822 to his victims.
“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.”
As part of Patterson’s plea agreement, he admitted to stealing $47,800 from the Limestone County Juvenile Court Services Fund, which was designated to support the children of Limestone County.
Patterson also admitted in court that, while serving as a private attorney, he financially exploited Charles Lee Hardy, for whom he served as a court-appointed conservator. Hardy died in December 2015 and was left with nothing to inherit to his family.
Patterson also admitted to stealing from another client, Rudolph Allen, while in private practice. According to Tuesday’s announcement, Patterson stole $601 from Allen three years after he died in July 2015. Patterson spent the money on himself rather than turn it over to Allen’s family.