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Wolchek investigation leads to formal complaint against Judge Dennis Powers

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LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) - After a year long investigation from the state of Michigan, a formal complaint has been issued against Judge Dennis Powers that could result in him losing his seat on the bench.

The state began investigating the judge after FOX 2's Rob Wolchek busted-on-the-job story last June, in which he caught the judge playing golf after canceling his court docket, taking vacations with his wife when he was supposed to be at judicial conferences, spending long lunches with a female friend and not even leaving his house for court until hours after he was supposed to be on the bench.

The 58-page report cites Wolchek's investigation and our findings as well as many other violations of fraud and abuse of tax payer money.

Count 1: Fraudulent mileage reimbursements. 

Judge Powers is accused of fleecing the taxpayers for thousands of dollars in phony mileage, including several instances of dual destination mileage where he claimed to be at a conference on one side of the state and then claimed mileage for travel here in the Detroit area.

In Wolchek's story he reported that the judge was in Aruba and other vacation destinations while he claimed to be at conferences, and the state investigation also found that to be true and said Judge Powers also charged the court while he went to real estate conferences.

He's cited for being late constantly and missing work.

Count five of the complaint says he wasn't even a good judge and didn't follow the law.

One case involved a man who threatened to "put a bullet in the head" of another judge in the same courthouse, Judge Brian McKenzie.

According to the complaint, Judge Powers let the guy off easy and even terminated the defendant's probation early. The complaint says this was because he was friends with the threatening man's father.

Speaking of friends, Judge Powers is also accused of dismissing a case against a woman's daughter in violation of the court's internal policy and the Michigan code of judicial conduct.

After Wolchek's story aired, the complaint says the judge acted improperly by threatening court employees in an effort to find out who was the snitch or rat among them. Judge Powers said he was going to have that person fired. 

A public trial will now be held and Judge Dennis Powers could face anything from public censure to removal from office and even criminal charges.

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