FARMINGTON - A Santa Fe judge on Monday appointed a receiver for New Mexico Title Escrow Co., the latest step in the sprawling state investigation into millions of dollars missing at the Farmington business.

District Court Judge Raymond Z. Ortiz appointed Albuquerque attorney Darryl Millet to oversee a forensic audit of the 800 to 900 escrow accounts that have languished since the business closed more than two months ago.

Meanwhile, Farmington police await the results of search warrants served at local financial institutions.

Millet said Monday he will hire an accounting firm to comb through the accounts. The investigation also may require a software expert and clerical support.

"It's a huge undertaking, but we're going to jump in," he said.

Escrow customers will be notified by letter of the status of their escrow accounts, said Millet, an attorney with Albuquerque Advocates who specializes in complex financial investigations.

"My goal is to do this as quickly as humanly possible, because I realize these people are in a panic state," Millet said. "As soon as we know, we will be sending out those letters immediately."

Millet urged escrow customers to be patient and wait for notification by mail, saying a flood of phone calls would be counter-productive to the investigation. "We will do our best to get everybody quick answers," he said.

Customers have complained that money deposited into escrow accounts at the company were not properly credited, or that they did not receive expected disbursements.


Advertisement

The state Financial Institutions Division is investigating along with the Farmington Police Department.

Another state agency, the Public Regulation Commission's Insurance Division, is investigating New Mexico Title Co., a separate but related business entity. The title and escrow companies shared space at 650 W. Main St., Suite C.

The title company closed abruptly Jan. 30 and the escrow firm followed days later.

Millet is charged with safeguarding any monetary assets and files while the investigation proceeds. He said he did not expect New Mexico Title Escrow Co. to reopen.

"One of my goals is to be able to get each of these 800 to 900 accounts transferred to an established escrow company either in Farmington or in New Mexico," he said. "There will be no continuation of this escrow company, I believe."

New Mexico Title Escrow Co. is believed to be controlled by Golden Rule, a business entity associated with Kirtland entrepreneur Bobby Willis. The other company, New Mexico Title Co., is owned by Chad Cox, a Denver businessman who has said he is cooperating with the investigation.

Willis' attorney, Michael Comeau, has not returned messages seeking comment on the case.

Police have served search warrants on "some financial institutions" locally, said Cpl. Russ Bradford of the Farmington Police Department. He could not estimate when that phase of the investigation would conclude.

"It's hard to say, and there could be several more (warrants) to go," Bradford said.