Batmobile Raid May Have Gone Too Far, DA Says
After an unexpected cross-country raid by San Mateo sheriffs, now the DA says there may not have been a case to begin with.
It's a lot more convoluted than an Adam West 20-minute story arc, but it still centers on a Batmobile. ABC 7 News reported July 29 that the San Mateo County Sheriff's office organized a cross-country trip for four officers to raid a custom-car builder in Indiana who allegedly didn't deliver a car on schedule to a buyer in California. The sheriff arrested the car builder, Mark Racop, on felony charges, raided his personal devices and froze his bank accounts, and held him briefly in an Indiana jail. The controversy intensified when ABC uncovered the sheriff knew the buyer suing the shop and allegedly ordered the raid as a favor. Now, as suddenly as the criminal charges were created, Racop's felony arraignment has been dropped and the case may be dropped entirely by the prosecuting district attorney.
The entire story is confusing precisely because the actions of the San Mateo County Sheriff, Carlos Bolanos, are hazy. The original complaint was that a realtor in San Mateo, Sam Anagnostou, ordered a Batmobile from Fiberglass Freaks, an Indiana-based custom-car shop run by Racop (who is officially licensed by DC Comics to build Batmobile replicas). Anagnostou allegedly missed a $20,000 payment and lost his place in line to receive his $210,000 Batmobile when he expected. When his car didn't arrive, he filed a lawsuit in San Mateo, which was dismissed, and filed a criminal complaint with the Indiana police, who also declined to bring criminal charges.
ABC reported Anagnostou asked Bolanos, reportedly his friend, to intervene. Four officers took a cross-country flight and raided Fiberglass Freaks on July 19, and charged Racop with felonies in California. Afterward, the deputy district attorney for San Mateo County told ABC 7 that "additional investigation" yielded a need for warrants for the cross-country raid, and refused to comment on the personal relationship between Anagnostou and Bolanos.
Now, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe has called off Racop's arraignment, perhaps because of the pressure caused by the report. Wagstaffe admitted that his staff approved the search warrants, but he did not approve or plan the raid itself and had no idea that the cross-country trip was happening. Wagstaffe admitted watching the Racop interview on local news convinced him that the matter is likely a civil case, rather than criminal, and he's considering dismissing the felony charges entirely.
The Drive attempted to reach out to both Racop and Bolanos, but neither was able to respond in time for this story. ABC 7 has had its own difficulty getting in touch with Bolanos, who they report has been on a monthlong vacation since before the story broke.
We'll update this story as more information becomes available.