By John Larson
Joseph Vallejos, owner and operator of JM Abstract and Title Co., was arraigned in Socorro Magistrate Court Friday, Nov. 19, on two class two felony counts of fraud.
Judge Jim Naranjo released Vallejos on his own recognizance.
Socorro police Sgt. Richard Lopez said Vallejos was taken into custody at about 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, at his home on School of Mines Rd., assisted by agents with the state’s Insurance Fraud Division of the Public Regulation Commission.
“We went to serve the search warrant at his residence and knocked, and knocked,” Lopez said. “Just as we started to breach the door, Mr. Vallejos opened it. He did not resist and is cooperating 100 percent.”
Assisting in the seizure and arrest were Officers Bobby Aragon, Victor Chavez and Stanley Montano, and Detective Brandi Perkins.
Police seized file cabinets, legal boxes, microfilm and computers from the offices of JM Abstract on Manzanares St. Thursday, as well as documents from his residence.
Initially thought to have fled to Mexico, Vallejos was “holed up in his house,” police Capt. Mike Winders said. “He’s been there for four weeks. He never left town.”
“Our officers did excellent work helping out,” Lopez said. “They go out of their way. The night shift came in and others on the day shift. We have a great team of badges. The teamwork we have impresses me every day.”
Vallejos has been the subject of an investigation by city police and the PRC since early August of this year. The Socorro Police Department is leading the joint investigation.
“The Insurance Fraud Division is conducting an investigation of their own, and the State Police are also gathering evidence,” Lopez said. “At some point all the evidence will be turned over to the state. Right now we’re focusing on the local cases.”
Lopez said he continues to receive 20 to 25 complaints every day. ”It’s all I can do to keep up with the paperwork,” he said. “There may be up to 230 victims.”
The criminal complaint cites two home sellers who wrote mortgage payoff checks to Vallejos, the owner of JM Abstract, who was entrusted to pay off the mortgages. But instead of sending the payoff money to the mortgage companies, Vallejos kept the money – about $159,000 - according to the complaint.
Lopez said those who think they may be a victim should check their property’s legal status with the county clerk or county assessor.
As of press time Tuesday, Vallejos’ preliminary hearing in Magistrate Court has not been scheduled.