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.
“The nurse was like, ‘Well, Doug Patterson told me he didn’t have any family.’ I was like, ‘What!?'” said Hardy.
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 years.