Bobby Willis pleads not guilty to wire fraud

Steve Garrison
Bobby Willis

FARMINGTON – Bobby Willis pleaded not guilty to two federal counts of wire fraud at an arraignment Wednesday in Albuquerque, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Willis, 43, was released by U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen B. Molzen on pretrial conditions pending trial, according to court records. He was ordered to remain within San Juan County, except when traveling to Bernalillo County for court-related matters or with authorization from the court.

Willis is also barred from withdrawing new lines of credit or seeking employment in any position with fiduciary responsibility, records state. He will remain in the custody of his ex-wife, Carrie Willis.

Willis is alleged to have defrauded Joseph and Theresa Lee of nearly $1 million through a real estate scheme implemented in spring 2010, according to an indictment filed in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico on Oct. 20.

The Lees state in a lawsuit filed against Willis in April 2014 that the $1 million was expected to be invested in a veterans administration hospital in Kirtland that was never built.

Willis is also facing charges in state court of fraud and embezzlement on allegations he defrauded escrow accounts held by the New Mexico Title Co. He is also accused in state court of defrauding millions of dollars from two other alleged investors in the Kirtland hospital project.

The Albuquerque office of the FBI investigated the federal case. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney C. Paige Messec.

Willis faces up to 20 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted on both counts of wire fraud.