FARMINGTON — A second arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for Bobby Willis, the former owner of New Mexico Title Co. and New Mexico Title Escrow Co., on suspicion of embezzling more than $5 million in precious gemstones and jewelry from a former business associate.

The new warrant, issued through Farmington Magistrate Court, follows an initial arrest warrant for Willis issued Aug. 10 on charges of racketeering, fraud, securities fraud and embezzlement. Willis is accused of taking more than $1.5 million from investor Mike Atchison to invest in a project to build a massive hospital complex in Kirtland.

Willis remains at large.

"We're still actively looking for him," said Cpl. Russ Bradford, a Farmington Police detective.

The new warrant stems from a collection of gemstones and jewelry Willis allegedly stole from Quentin Smith, who was involved in Willis' proposal to build a massive hospital project in Kirtland.

Police said the new warrant is not directly related to the New Mexico Title investigation. That investigation continues, and additional charges may be filed, police said.

Smith said he first came into contact with Willis, a Kirtland businessman, through a TV shopping show Smith hosted in California selling gems and jewelry. Willis was a frequent and reliable customer, Smith said.

"Bobby bought well in excess of $2 million of stuff from us in a short period of time," Smith said Wednesday. "He always paid his bills on time. (I) never had a problem.



In September 2011, Willis asked Smith to come to New Mexico to manage the hospital project and other business interests, Smith said. Smith said he eventually placed his savings, in the form of the jewels, with Willis. Willis put the haul in large safes at his Kirtland business.

The gems and jewelry were not a payment to Willis, Smith said. "It was put there for safekeeping only," he said.

Smith said he grew uncomfortable with Willis, who made grandiose plans that never seemed to pan out. "Bobby never got to the point where he'd finish anything," Smith said.

He added, "It took me awhile to figure out what was going on. The stories would change. The projects would change."

Smith said he then asked for the return of his gems and jewelry, but Willis refused.

On Jan. 30, New Mexico Title Co. collapsed, starting a string of investigations by state regulators and law enforcement. Willis once owned the business, and later controlled New Mexico Title Escrow Co. The businesses shared an office at 650 W. Main St., Suite C in Farmington, and investigators believe they had some overlapping operations.

On Feb. 3, Smith went to the FBI to report the alleged gem and jewelry theft. He later also reported it to the Farmington Police Department.

Smith, 70, said the cache of gems and jewelry was meant to fund his golden years.

"That was my wife's and my retirement," he said. "I'm 70 years old. I can't go out and get a job anymore."

Smith said he was worried about other investors who may have been victims of Willis' schemes. Many of them were seniors, he said.

"Bobby seems to take advantage of older people," Smith said. "How many other people have been taken by this guy that haven't come out of the woodwork, so to speak?"

Willis' attorney, John W. Day, previously said Willis would plead not guilty to the charges. He declined to comment Wednesday.

Police ask anyone who has information regarding Willis' whereabouts to contact Det. Cpl. Russ Bradford at 505-566-2340 or Crime Stoppers at 505-334-8477.