Willis, the former owner of New Mexico Title Co. and New Mexico Title Escrow Co., did not appear at the hearing. His attorneys said Willis is receiving medical care in another state and can't be incarcerated.
“We don't want him to die in some stinking jail between his medical provider and San Juan County,” said Mark Donatelli, a Santa Fe lawyer representing Willis.
Willis suffered several strokes and is undergoing neurological treatment and taking several medications, Donatelli said. He said the San Juan County Adult Detention Center does not have adequate facilities to provide Willis medical care.
“You wouldn't trust a loved one to the San Juan County jail,” he said.
Magistrate Judge Mark Hawkinson said he needed better evidence of Willis' maladies — prescription bottles, notarized medical documents and Willis' presence in court — to allow him to remain out of jail.
“I want the client here so I can see him personally,” he said.
Willis' attorneys said they are in regular contact with him. They submitted redacted documents purporting to show he is undergoing medical care. That wasn't enough for the judge.
“I want more,” Hawkinson said.
Hawkinson also denied a motion to dismiss the charges against Willis due to alleged investigative and prosecutorial misconduct. The lead detective in the case, Det. Cpl. Russ Bradford of the Farmington Police Department, purchased a house from Willis in 2008.
Willis' attorneys said Bradford bought the home at a below-market price, raising questions of the deal's propriety.
The home was first listed for $479,000 in August 2007 before it was dropped to $399,000 after it didn't sell, said Assistant District Attorney Ken Stalter. Bradford offered $375,000 for the house, a standard amount below the list price, Stalter said. Willis accepted the offer.
“There was no discount to Det. Bradford,” Stalter said Assistant District Attorney Ken Stalter.
Stalter successfully argued allegations of misconduct in the investigation should be addressed in District Court, where the trial will be held.
Willis is wanted on several charges of embezzlement, as well as racketeering, fraud and securities fraud.
He faces two criminal cases. The first case alleges he bilked former business partner Mike Atchison out of more than $1.5 million. The second warrant accuses him of stealing more than $5 million in gemstones and jewelry from Quentin Smith, another former business partner.
The charges are not directly related to the ongoing investigations of New Mexico Title Co. and New Mexico Title Escrow Co. The businesses, which shared an office at 650 W. Main St., Suite C, closed in late January amid customer complaints of missing funds.
Prosecutors on Thursday called witnesses who said Willis used threats. Sandy Davis, a former New Mexico Title Co. employee, said she moved after Willis told her he knew where she lived.
“If you were in his group and you didn't do what you were told, you paid for it,” she said.
Atchison was also called to testify. He said Willis had sent a message through another business associate threatening him.
Atchison testified, “I carry a gun every place I go and I sleep with a gun, and I'm afraid of Mr. Willis.”