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Federal lawsuit makes shocking allegations against Van Buren. Co officials

VAN BUREN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Newschannel 3 I-Team has obtained a copy of a federal lawsuit Thursday that has some astonishing allegations against public officials in Van Buren County.

Over the last six months, the I-Team has been looking into some controversy regarding a civil court case in the county, which was originally handled by now-retired Judge Paul Hamre.

Owners of HLV, a company out of Kent County, were trying to collect a debt from the owners of a company in Van Buren County, named ELC.

As the case went along, representatives from HLV alleged that Judge Hamre was putting up roadblocks to prevent them from collecting what they were owed.

They point to several pieces of evidence, including an alleged improper conversation that was recorded over the phone to show they were treated unfairly.

On top of that, HLV's owner Bob Baker and his attorney Donovan Visser allege they were subjected to malicious prosecution by Prosecutor Mike Bedford as they tried to seize assets of ELC.

We poured through all 51 pages of the lawsuit, and some of the allegations laid out in it are shocking.

The suit alleges bribery, racketeering, and negligence.

Named in the suit are Van Buren County, the Village of Paw Paw, Prosecutor Mike Bedford, an assistant prosecutor, former Circuit Court Judge Paul Hamre, the attorneys for ELC, and a court secretary.

The lawsuit alleges that all of the people above were engaged in a long-term pattern of racketeering activity.

Newschannel 3 Chief Investigative Reporter David Bailey joined us from the newsroom to tell us more about this shocking story.

To see the lawsuit for yourself, click here.