By David Madden

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — An employee in the Chester County treasurer’s office has been charged with taking taxpayer money for himself.

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Sean Patterson, 27, is charged with pocketing more than $5,000 over the past year and a half by skimming cash from tax payments and manipulating computer records to cover it up.

Chester County DA Tom Hogan credits staffers who noticed a small discrepancy in those records and looked deeper.

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As for a reason for the alleged theft, Hogan says, “It turned out, in fact, he was over-extended on his own personal finances and was stealing money, basically, to pay off his own debts.”

Patterson was fired from his job. He is currently free on unsecured bond.

His attorney, Mike Skinner, calls his client a “good guy” who has been cooperating with prosecutors and, if the charges are affirmed, is expected “to take full responsibility for them.”

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