The Batmobile Spawns Police Corruption in California
10 Aug 2022 (abc7 NEWS)
A major development in the Batmobile case first uncovered by the ABC7 I-Team 10 days ago. The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is now calling on the state attorney general to investigate Sheriff Carlos Bolanos for sending a team of investigators to raid an Indiana Batmobile garage.
The sheriff now confirms much of the I-Team’s reporting, that a wealthy realtor and donor asked him to help get the Batmobile that he ordered but was delayed. Carlos Bolanos insists his actions were proper. Still, a candidate for Congress is calling on him to resign.
In an exclusive interview, the president of the San Mateo Board of Supervisors tells the I-Team’s Dan Noyes, they have asked the state attorney general to investigate the propriety of the Batmobile raid.
“The aim is to have the attorney general conduct an investigation,” Don Horsely said. “But we also know that that takes a long time. And so we decided that we would also do our own independent investigation at the same time.”
Atherton realtor Sam Anagnostou asked Sheriff Carlos Bolanos to intervene because the $210,000 Batmobile replica he ordered was delayed. Bolanos sent a lieutenant, sergeant and two deputies to raid the Batmobile garage in Logansport, Indiana on July 19, owned by Mark Racop. “For what, what are the charges? They say that there’s money coming in on from two sources to the same car,” he asked the investigators. It’s like no, no, no, no, this is Sam’s car. There’s no other money on that car.”
They arrested Racop, charged him in San Mateo County with two felonies: Obtaining money by false pretenses, and diversion of construction funds, and froze his bank account.
“It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Dan, this is the crazy part,” Racop told us, “They say I’m not building the plaintiff’s car. But then they freeze my account. So I can’t build the plaintiff’s car.”
Sheriff Bolanos confirmed much of our reporting in a memo to “all personnel” Monday:
- That he knew Sam Anagnostou before the Batmobile case as a business leader in San Mateo County,
- That Anagnostou contacted Bolanos personally, asking him to launch an investigation,
- That the sheriff ordered the four-man team to raid the Batmobile garage in Indiana, after getting search and arrest warrants approved by judges here and in Indiana.
Bolanos said the plan was to have two of the investigators arrest Racop and bring him to California, and the other two to load Anagnostou’s Batmobile onto a trailer and escort it to San Mateo County.
Don Horsley is not only president of the Board of Supervisors- he was also San Mateo County Sheriff for 14 years.
Don Horsley: “Do you really need to have that kind of manpower? Especially looking at the proprietor, looks like an elderly man. Guess he’s a minister. You could find him at church on Sunday.”
Dan Noyes: “And could you also just not put the Batmobile on a truck and send it out here? Do you need two guys to actually accompany the vehicle?”
Don Horsley: “No.”
Sheriff Bolanos defended his actions in that memo, saying, “I would make the same request of our investigators whenever a potential crime of this nature came to my attention.”
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe is considering whether to throw out the case. Anagnostou paid $170,000 toward his replica, but Racop says when the realtor missed a payment and lost contact for more than eight months, he moved Anagnostou from the front of the list- to last for the nine Batmobiles in production.
District Attorney Wagstaffe compared that to purchasing one of nine Babe Ruth baseball bats: “It turns out, well, for a variety of reasons. The one you wanted, the first Babe Ruth bat, got sold. And you get one of the others. You still got to pay Ruth bat. It’s no different.”
So how did this criminal case get so far? Dan Noyes obtained the lead investigator’s affidavit for probable cause. It portrays the business transaction as a theft case. And the lead investigator, Lt. Michael Leishman, leaves off most of his title; he’s head of the Auto Theft Task Force and Gang Intelligence Unit. He writes only that he is “Commander of the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force.”
Dan Noyes: “People in the bank get this warrant for the bank account, which they’ve now frozen.”
Steve Wagstaffe: “Yes.”
Dan Noyes: “And they say ‘narcotics unit’, it’s got to be a narcotics case. So you understand how that might play in?”
Steve Wagstaffe: “No question. It’s a- it’s a question. I don’t have the answer for because it’s not my office, but it’s, it’s a good question.”
Another good question: do any of the public officials know Sam Anagnostou socially?
“I was a basketball referee. It was my exercise,” District Attorney Wagstaffe told us. “And he played in an adult league that I would referee now and then and so I got to say hello to him.”
As for donations, Sam Anagnostou is 16% partner with his brother in Anagnostou Investments. They gave $1,000 to Steve Wagstaffe for his campaign, another thousand to Carlos Bolanos’ campaign. Sam Anagnostou is a “lieutenant level donor” to the Sheriff’s Activities League for youth sports, meaning he gave between three and five thousand dollars. Bolanos also gave a thousand to Wagstaffe’s campaign, and Wagstaffe, his campaign, and his wife gave $3,500 to Bolanos’ losing campaign for Sheriff.
It all is too much for Rishi Kumar: “It’s a business dispute. And why are we doing this? And I believe the sheriff should resign.”
The Saratoga councilmember beat out six other contenders to challenge Anna Eshoo for Congressional District 16. He tells us, his campaign blog calling on Sheriff Bolanos to resign has struck a chord with voters. “Here is this guy whose assets have been frozen. And he’s got employees to feed and they are not able to feed their families. I don’t know what’s going on. That’s, that’s like a travesty. You know, it should not have been happening.”
San Anagnostou did file a lawsuit in San Mateo County but it was dismissed in March because the judge said Indiana is the proper venue. His attorney told us Tuesday, Anagnostou has instructed him not to pursue the matter in Indiana’s civil courts.