‘I betrayed the trust:’ Limestone County judge writes letter admitting to crimes

Limestone County Judge Douglas Patterson is charged with use of official position or office for personal gain, financial exploitation of the elderly first-degree and theft third-degree.

Posted: Jan 14, 2020 2:23 PM
Updated: Jan 14, 2020 6:36 PM

In a letter obtained by WAAY 31, a judge in Limestone County who is supposed to uphold the law admitted he’s guilty of breaking it.

We confirmed Douglas Patterson wrote this letter and sent it to several other judges in the county.

Douglas Patterson,

Patterson is on paid leave after a grand jury indicted him for stealing from the county and exploiting the elderly. He is still getting paid his salary, which is almost $11,000 a month.

The typed letter was sent to Judge Baker on Dec. 17, which was less than a week after Patterson was charged.

Part of the letter we recieved in the mail is redacted.

People are frustrated especially after learning about Patterson’s letter.

"This is crazy. He admits everything. Every single thing. Disabled and elderly clients," says Katie Winton.

On Tuesday, WAAY 31 showed Winton, who lives in Limestone County, the letter Douglas Patterson sent admitting to his crimes.

"It's crazy to me. It's absolutely insane. I just..I mean i don't know. It's just absolutely crazy," says Winton.

In the letter dated 6 days after his indictment last month, Patterson admitted to what he called his "unethical, criminal, and reprehensible conduct".

He wrote, "I betrayed the trust placed in me by my disabled and elderly clients by stealing from their funds for which I owed a fiduciary duty and trust." He also stated, "I betrayed the trust of the people of Limestone County by stealing from funds belonging to them and placed under my control."

"I don't even have words honeslty, it's insane to me," says Winton.

The state Attorney General’s office wants this case fast tracked because it raises questions as to whether Patterson used his position as judge for personal gain and he's still receiving his salary.

"I would say so. If he's still being paid for that, he's admitted to everything that he's done I would say that is not right," adds Winton.

On Tuesday, we reached out Steven Haddock, a retired Morgan County judge, who was appointed to this case. He told me he's waiting to select an arraignment date based on the Limestone County Circuit Court's schedule.

We reached out to the Attorney General's office to see if they were aware of this letter and they told us no comment.

______________________________________

WAAY 31 was anonymously sent a letter written by Douglas Patterson, the Limestone County judge indicted on multiple charges.

In his letter to Limestone County Circuit Judge Robert Baker, Patterson writes about his "unethical, criminal and reprehensible conduct.” Three other recipients were Cc'd in the letter. One of the recipients has confirmed to WAAY 31 they did receive it.

Patterson is charged with use of official position or office for personal gain, financial exploitation of the elderly first-degree and theft third-degree.

In his letter, Patterson states, "I betrayed the trust placed in me by my disabled and elderly clients by stealing from their funds for which I owed fiduciary duty and trust."

He then goes on to say, "Then I betrayed the trust of the people of Limestone County by stealing from funds belonging to them and placed under my control."

Court documents say the state prosecutor in the case is asking for the trial to be fast tracked. They also show that while Patterson is suspended from serving as a judge and hasn't been hearing cases since September 2019, he is still receiving a paycheck until he is convicted or resigns.

If convicted, Patterson could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000 each for the first two charges. He could also face up to five years in prison and a fine for the theft charge.

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