Well-known El Paso businessman Billy Abraham was jailed Friday on $200,000 bond for failing to appear at a routine status hearing Thursday regarding the 10 felony charges against him.
District Judge Sam Medrano issued a bench warrant for Abraham’s arrest Thursday morning when Abraham didn’t show up in court with his attorney, Jim Darnell, as ordered. He was arrested at 2:28 p.m. later that day.
Abraham, 63, was re-indicted July 2 on 10 third-degree felony charges arising from a 2017 civil court hearing conducted by telephone with an administrative judge in Austin.
At issue then was whether to condemn the three-car elevator system in the historic Toltec Building in Downtown El Paso because it had not undergone a required annual inspection in years and needed extensive repairs.
The Toltec Building belonged to Abraham and his family for decades but was recently acquired by Abraham’s cousin, Greg Malooly, in a bankruptcy sale involving a number of Abraham properties.
After hearing Abraham’s testimony, the judge was going to call and question an elevator repairman, Cromwell Morgan, who had worked on the elevator for years.
But Abraham sought to keep that from happening by sending a string of text messages to Morgan urging him not to take the judge’s call. Morgan later furnished El Paso Inc. and the state with copies of those text messages.
The hearing eventually proceeded, but 14 months later, an El Paso County grand jury indicted Abraham on several charges of witness tampering and forgery. That case was headed for trial June 21, but the trial was abruptly canceled and the charges were dismissed the day before.
The next day, a new grand jury re-indicted Abraham on 10 charges, including witness tampering, tampering with evidence and perjury related to the elevator case, all third degree felonies and each punishable by three years in prison.
He was initially freed on $100,000 bond but now will have to come up with twice that to get out of jail.
Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (915) 534-4422, ext. 122 and (915) 630-6622.