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The ‘humiliating’ saga of a Bay Area sheriff and a Batmobile


A custom, functional replica of a 1966 Batmobile, complete with a working flamethrower, is at the core of a legal spat between a Bay Area real estate agent and an Indiana minister — a spat that may have illicitly involved Bay Area sheriff’s investigators flying halfway across the country to conduct a raid. 

In 2017, according to court documents, Atherton real estate agent Sam Anagnostou signed a contract with Mark Racop, who would build the replica for a cool $210,000 by June 2018. Racop is a minister and the owner of Fiberglass Freaks, a 19-year-old Indiana company that manufactures the only custom-made Batmobile replicas licensed by DC Comics.

Racop told the Pharos-Tribune in Logansport, Indiana, where Fiberglass Freaks’ garage are located, that Anagnostou “decided for nine months not to make a payment.” 

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“He kept demanding to know when his car was going to be completed during that time but would not make a payment,” Racop told the newspaper. “I was forced to reorder the cars and bumped his car to the end of the lineup because he hadn’t paid.” 


Anagnostou was seemingly furious. He filed a police report with Atherton police and a suit in California state court in San Mateo County against Racop. In the August 2021 lawsuit, Anagnostou alleged that the carmaker sold his car “to fulfill a later car order ahead of [Anagnostou’s] order to generate additional cash by selling the same Car twice.” (The contract, which was provided in Anagnostou’s complaint, indeed states that, in “the event that Buyer fails to pay a payment as agreed, and upon 30 days notice, the Builder shall be entitled to sell the Car.”) 

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Judge Nancy Fineman threw out the lawsuit on the grounds that “Indiana is the proper forum for this action.” 

Anagnostou persisted. KGO reported last Friday that he requested a favor from a friend in a high place, San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos. (Anagnostou’s public Facebook page shows that he is, in fact, Facebook friends with Bolanos.) Bolanos, according to the news station, allegedly sent a sheriff’s office lieutenant, sergeant and two deputies 2,200 miles away. On July 19, the sheriff’s officers allegedly raided the Fiberglass Freaks offices and harassed Racop for hours. 

“They were there to intimidate me from minute one,” Racop told the station. The officers allegedly took him to the local jail, only to let him go — and were able to somehow freeze his bank account, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal. They also obtained a warrant to take the Batmobile. 

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office is also now involved, charging Racop for felony charges of fraud and misuse of funds. (Racop will have to go to San Mateo County on Aug. 19 for his arraignment, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported.)

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One legal expert seemed baffled by the extent the sheriff’s office went to allegedly harass Racop.

“Sheriff Bolanos is definitely not the first law enforcement leader to utilize their officers and their police powers for highly inappropriate and personal grievances,” Berkeley criminal law professor Jonathan Simon told SFGATE in an emailed statement, citing the 2012 incident with then-Berkeley police Chief Michael Meehan harassing a reporter, “… but for how far the officers went (literally and legally) and how trivial and cartoonish the cause, it’s got to be an outlier.” 

It appears that public outcry could change the tides of the case. During a San Mateo County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, KGO reported, constituents shamed Bolanos and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office — pushing the county executive to reach out to the sheriff’s office and the DA.

“This is just completely unacceptable, it’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating,” one resident said during a call. 

But since Bolanos was already voted out of office in June’s primary election — and plans to retire next year — it seems like not much can be done by constituents to oust him from office.

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“The larger problem is that sheriffs, who are elected at the county level and answer only to the voters, generally operate without oversight or even transparency while spending one of the larger budgets in the county,” Simon told SFGATE.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment.



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