Former Alabama judge pleads guilty to theft, ethics charges

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — A one-time north Alabama judge accused of stealing from a courthouse fund and a conservatorship account has pleaded guilty to theft and ethics charges.

Former Limestone County District Judge Douglas Patterson entered the plea Friday ahead of his trial scheduled for later this month, the Decatur Daily reported.

Patterson, 38, resigned in July after being indicted last year on charges of financial exploitation, theft and using his position for personal gain. He was was accused of taking more than $47,000 from a juvenile court fund as judge and stealing from the conservatorship account of a disabled person while working as a private attorney.

Patterson agreed to pay $73,000 in restitution and could face additional fines and jail time at his sentencing on Dec. 8.

Former Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Patterson to the judgeship in March 2016, and he later ran unopposed and won a six-year term.