Willis asks Farmington for settlement in lawsuit

Local meetings include swearing in of newly elected officials

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Bobby Willis is escorted to court by his attorney, Bob Cooper, and his ex-wife, Carrie Willis, on March 5, 2016. Willis is seeking a settlement from the city of Farmington over a lawsuit alleging that Farmington police violated his civil rights.
  • The Aztec City Commission will select a new mayor during its Monday meeting.
  • The Aztec school board will consider an agreement with the Navajo Nation about language and culture education.
  • The Farmington City Council likely will approve a franchise agreement with the town of Kirtland.

FARMINGTON — A former San Juan County resident who has been sentenced to up to two years in prison on wire fraud convictions has asked the city of Farmington for a settlement in a lawsuit alleging Farmington police violated his civil rights.

The Farmington City Council will have a closed session at the end of its 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting to discuss the settlement. The council meets at City Hall, 800 N. Municipal Drive.

The lawsuit names the Farmington Police Department, as well as the U.S. Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service.

City Attorney Jennifer Breakell said the lawsuit stems from a search of former title company owner Bobby Willis’ property in Missouri. She said during a criminal investigation, a Farmington officer traveled to Missouri and had a search warrant signed by a Missouri judge. The warrant allowed the officer to search Willis’ property and seize documents related to the criminal case.

Breakell said while the police were searching the property, federal agents arrived and also seized items. Breakell said Farmington police only seized the documents that the search warrant gave the police the right to obtain. She said Farmington had nothing to do with the federal investigation or the items that the federal agents seized.

In addition to discussing the pending litigation, the City Council will discuss negotiations for an updated bicycle and pedestrian plan that will be prepared for the Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Prior to the closed session, councilors likely will approve a franchise agreement with the town of Kirtland for electric utility service.

Kirtland approved the franchise agreement during its Town Council meeting on Feb. 27.

The agreement, which outlines how Farmington will pay for its use of Kirtland rights of way, calls for Farmington to pay Kirtland 5 percent of the gross receipts for electricity sold to residential and commercial customers within the town boundaries. Farmington will give Kirtland 2 percent of the gross receipts for the sale of electricity to industrial customers.

Newly elected officials will be sworn in at 6 p.m. Monday in Farmington, Bloomfield and Aztec. After the Aztec city commissioners are sworn in, they will select a new mayor.

The City Commission also will discuss refinancing a loan for the city's wastewater treatment plant.

Following the swearing in of the new mayor, judge and city councilors in Bloomfield, the City Council will discuss applying for New Mexico Department of Transportation funding for street maintenance.

Several local school boards also are scheduled to meet this week.

The Aztec Municipal School District board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the district's central office at 1118 W. Aztec Blvd. The board will consider an agreement with the Navajo Nation to encourage and facilitate Navajo language and culture education in Aztec schools, according to an agenda.

The Bloomfield School District board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the district's central office at 325 N. Bergin Lane. The board will consider adding 11 new courses for the 2018-19 academic year, including six advanced placement courses, three music courses and two teaching or educational courses, according to the agenda.

The San Juan College Board of Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the College Board Room in the Educational Services Building on campus. The board will discuss increasing tuition and fee increases, according to an agenda.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

Reporter Megan Petersen contributed to this report.