Limeston County Judge Douglas Patterson is facing charges of theft, financial exploitation of the eldery, and using official office for personal gain.
Once community members learned of these accusations after the judge's indictment and arrest Thursday, they said they felt led down by a man they said was supposed to be setting an example of right from wrong.
"How are we supposed to trust them, for them to uphold our justice system and for them to turn around and be a criminal," Athens resident Chino Bolar said.
According to the Alabama Attorney General's Office, Douglas Patterson took about $100,000 over several years from the Juvenile Court System and two elderly men. One we know was a veteran.
"Like they served our country, they put their life on the line for us," Bolar said. "We're supposed to have respect for them, that's just messed up."
The state investigation revealed Patterson wrote about 70 checks to himself from the county's Juvenile Court Services Fund. Investigators say Patterson cashed or deposited them into her personal bank account, his law firm's operating account, and his law firm's client trust account.
"I'm really disappointed in Judge Patterson," Store owner Wendy Yarbrough said. "I worked with youth and I have been in his court room a number of times, with some of the youth that I worked with and I thought he was a wonderful man, very fair with the kids."
Patterson was supposed to be acting as a guardian over Charles Hardy's account, but is accused of taking more than $47,000 from it. The Attorney General's Office said he also took $1,500 from Rudolph Allen's estate.
"It's not a shock that people with such high authority are doing it as well," Athens resident Raynika Beene said.
Beene has been skeptical of the county leaders since the theft charges against Sheriff Mike Blakely, and now she said she is fed up.
"I mean how can you trust them, when they're stealing from us, there's not trust there," Beene said.
Patterson is out on bond. He is formally suspended from serving as a district court judge. His cases were previously reassigned to the count's other judges during the state's investigation.
Patterson could face up to 20 years in prison, and a fine up to $30,000 each for the first two charges. He could also face up to 5 years in prison and a fine for the theft charge.
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