FARMINGTON — The former owner of the New Mexico Title Company and New Mexico Escrow Company was taken into police custody last month in Branson, Mo.
Bobby Willis, 49, was charged in August 2012 with multiple counts of embezzlement, fraud, securities fraud and racketeering in San Juan County. He allegedly misled investors for a proposed multi-million dollar hospital project in Kirtland that never happened.
Willis, a former Kirtland resident, moved to Missouri and was arrested in January 2013 in Branson. He was placed under house arrest and ordered to wear an ankle bracelet.
San Juan County issued an arrest warrant to bring Willis into custody after he failed to appear for a hearing last month, said San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien.
Willis was arrested March 22. He is currently being held at Taney County Jail in Missouri on a $1 million bond.
One of the investors in Willis' proposed project, Dr. Ronnie Garner, filed a lawsuit in March 2013 alleging Willis approached him with plans to build a sprawling veterans hospital development, according to The Daily Times archives. Garner transferred funds from his retirement savings and his mother's savings to the project.
The lawsuit alleges Willis purchased land in Kirtland for $400,000 and later sold it to Garner for $1.2 million. He allegedly used that money as part of a $132,880 payment for an executive suite at the Denver Broncos football stadium.
Michael Atchison, another investor, also filed a lawsuit against Willis in March 2013. Atchison claims he gave Willis three separate checks amounting to $1.56 million, which Willis deposited into escrow accounts at his business, according to The Daily Times archives. Willis allegedly promised Atchison a 10 to 15 percent interest in companies related to the project and told Atchison he had several government grants lined up.
Willis is also accused of stealing gemstones and jewelry from Quentin Smith, who was involved in the proposal to build the hospital, The Daily Times archives state. Smith allegedly put his savings, in the form of jewels, in large safes at Willis' Kirtland business.
Smith told The Daily Times in August 2012 that he had left the gemstones and jewels with Willis for safekeeping and not as payment.
Willis' extradition hearing is scheduled for April 30.
O'Brien said the hearing will be to prove Willis' identity and determine the details of the extradition process. O'Brien said Willis will ultimately be brought back to New Mexico for trial.
Earlier this month, Willis' attorney filed to stay the extradition because of his client's medical conditions.
Since moving to Missouri, Willis has received treatment for several small strokes, as well as hypertension, according to The Daily Times archives.