A former Chester County employee has been arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $5,000 from the county treasurer's office.

Sean Patterson, while in his capacity as an employee of the county treasurer's office, took cash payments from taxpayers and manipulated computer accounts to hide the thefts, according to a news release from the Chester County district attorney's office.

Patterson 27, of West Chester, has been charged with felony theft, tampering with public records and related offenses. Patterson worked in the treasurer’s office from 2011 until the alleged fraud was discovered.

"Theft of taxpayer funds by a government employee is an extreme abuse of trust," said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan. "The public has a right to expect government employees to do their jobs honestly. We will not permit this type of criminal conduct in Chester County government.”

Authorities said strong internal controls resulted in treasurer's office officials discovering suspicious activity by Patterson.

According to the criminal complaint, Patterson's motive for committing the crime was because he was living beyond his means and was financially overextended, with many unpaid bills.

Patterson stole a total of $5,866.51. His fraudulent adjustments within the county’s accounts created an additional loss of $4,386.40, meaning the total loss to Chester County taxpayers is $10,252, according to the district attorney's office.