Bobby Willis
Bobby Willis (Courtesy of Taney County Sheriff's Office)

FARMINGTON — Bobby Willis will be extradited to New Mexico to stand trial for allegedly embezzling money in San Juan County.

Tony Williams, associate judge of the Taney County Circuit Court in Missouri, made the ruling at an extradition hearing Wednesday.

Willis is the former owner of the New Mexico Title Co. and New Mexico Escrow Co. He faces multiple charges, including embezzlement and fraud, in San Juan County. Once a Kirtland resident, Willis was arrested in Missouri in January 2013 and placed under house arrest. San Juan County issued an arrest warrant to bring Willis into custody after he failed to appear for a hearing in Missouri last month.

Willis, 49, is currently being held at the Taney County Jail in Forsyth, Mo., on a $1 million cash-only bond.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brent Capshaw said extraditions generally happen within 30 days of a ruling.

Willis' attorney, Dee Wampler, said he filed a petition for Willis not to be transported to New Mexico by airplane because of Willis' health conditions. Willis suffers from strokes and hypertension, according to The Daily Times archives.

"I don't think he can fly," Wampler said, citing Willis' health issues.

That motion was overruled on Wednesday. Williams ruled the court does not have jurisdiction to order New Mexico's courts on prisoner transport, according to court documents.

Willis was taken into police custody last month in Branson, Mo.

A warrant for his arrest was originally issued in August 2012. He is suspected of racketeering, fraud, embezzlement and securities fraud in connection to misleading investors about a hospital project in Kirtland.

Police in January 2013 located Willis in Branson, Mo. He was arrested and ordered to wear an ankle bracelet while under house arrest.

The case against Willis stemmed from his former business, New Mexico Title Co., unexpectedly closing in February 2012 after it was discovered money was missing from the company.

Willis had sold his shares in the company, but told The Daily Times at the time that he had private investigators looking into the missing funds.

Later that year, two warrants were issued for Willis' arrest.

The second warrant was issued in connection to a collection of gemstones and jewelry Willis allegedly stole from Quentin Smith. Smith was the project manager for a Kirtland veterans hospital Willis told investors he planned to build. The proposed multi-million dollar project never happened.

Smith allegedly put his savings — in the form of gemstones and jewels — in safes at Willis' business for safekeeping when they were stolen.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Smith said the jewelry was worth more than $5 million. He emphasized he was not Willis' only victim.

Willis also allegedly stole from other investors, including Dr. Ronnie Garner and Michael Atchison.

"He's a nefarious human being," Smith said from his home in northern California.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.