LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala – Last week former Limestone County judge, Douglas Patterson was sentenced to 4-years in prison for several ethics-related charges. As part of the conviction, Patterson is being ordered to pay just under $73,000 in restitution to three different parties.
Jessica Hardy is owed $25,000 after her father’s conservatorship account was drained of roughly $47,000 dollars. Hardy says another judge gave control of the conservatorship to Patterson. Court documents show Patterson took money from the account over the course of 6 years.
“I wanted to see everything. I saw all these withdrawals. One day he took a total of $6,000 in one day,” said Jessica Hardy, who contemplated legal action before the Alabama Attorney Generals Office stepped in.
“I was like, Momma, I’m poor. I can’t afford no lawyer. I can’t go against no judge,” said Hardy when her disabled mother urged Jessica to find answers.
For Hardy, the situation only got worse when she made a call to the hospital to see if she could visit her dying father, a former marine.
Eventually, Hardy heard from the Attorney General’s office.
“It felt like weight lifted off of me,” said Hardy.
It’s not clear if the Hardy’s will ever see $25,000 from Patterson or his family. One thing is clear, had the money never left the Hardy’s account, things today would be a whole lot easier.
“We are staying in a hotel because of this COVID situation. I had lost my job,” said Hardy.
Last week, when Patterson was hauled away to start serving his prison sentence, he shared a few words with reporters.
“I’m sorry for everything I did, I’m sorry for all the hurt I caused. I stick to that. I’m very sorry,” said Patterson.
Despite all that has happened to the Hardy’s, Jessica says she has forgiven the former judge.
“It’s the only way I can release myself. And feel good about myself because I can’t carry that hate,” said Hardy.
Patterson also wrote upwards of 70 checks to himself. Taking money
from the Limestone County Juvenile Court Services Fund for several