FARMINGTON (Source Chuck Slothower The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M. (MCT) — As the investigation into New Mexico Title Co. and New Mexico Title Escrow Co. continues, the business community is adjusting to the fallout.
One man started a new company, Four Corners Escrow Service, and is encouraging New Mexico Title Escrow customers to take their work to him or other local escrow companies.
Local title and escrow companies have seen an uptick in business from New Mexico Title’s former customers, who number in the hundreds. The receiver in the case, Darryl Millet, estimated 800-900 escrow accounts are affected, and at least twice as many people.
New Mexico Title Co. closed Jan. 30, and the escrow company closed soon after amid allegations of missing money.
At least two local banks also appear to be involved in the investigation. The court order appointing Millet indicates New Mexico Title or related business entities had funds in Four Corners Community Bank and Bank of America.
The April 25 order from Santa Fe District Court Judge Raymond Ortiz allows Millet to prevent access to the funds by any business entity linked to the title and escrow companies. It also grants him subpoena power to identify relevant financial assets.
Millet, an Albuquerque attorney, is leading a forensic audit of the escrow company that could finally determine how much money is missing, and who it belongs to. Police in the case have said millions of dollars may be missing.
Millet is charged with preparing a preliminary inventory within 30
days of his appointment, and a final inventory within 90 days.
State investigator John Gaherty said he has tracked funds that flowed improperly from New Mexico Title Co. to New Mexico Title Escrow. Gaherty called the revelation — gained by tracking certified funds sent by mortgage companies — a “big red flag.”
The problems appear to have begun in October 2011, he said.
Gaherty also revealed at a meeting Tuesday that the business and its managers and employees were not licensed to sell insurance in New Mexico.
“They never got a business license to operate, and the individuals involved were not licensed,” he said.
Court documents indicate New Mexico Title Escrow was controlled by Golden Rule LLC, an entity that state documents link to Bobby Willis.
New Mexico Title Co. was controlled by J.J. Bond Investments. Chad Cox, a Denver-area businessman, said he bought the title company from Willis in 2011.
The court order also found Willis Asset Management, another business entity registered to Willis, is “an indispensable party” to the investigation.
Gaherty said the investigation has not found any liability insurance held by the companies in question.
New Mexico Title Co. was backed by California-based First American Title Insurance. First American will issue a new title to customers affected by New Mexico Title Co.’s closure, Gaherty said.
For escrow customers, Millet has pledged to notify escrow customers by mail regarding the status of their accounts.
©2012 The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.)
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