SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- A major development in our Batmobile investigation, the San Mateo County District Attorney has decided to drop criminal charges against the Indiana man who builds replica Batmobiles. That Batmobile garage owner credits the ABC7 I-Team with turning the case around.
You'll recall that Sheriff Carlos Bolanos sent four investigators to raid the garage in Indiana, after receiving a call from a wealthy donor from Atherton who had ordered a Batmobile.
The criminal case against the only man licensed by DC Comics to build replica Batmobiles is ending. Mark Racop faced felony charges of "Obtaining Money by False Pretenses, and Diversion of Construction Funds".
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the I-Team, "I am announcing we are going to dismiss the case."
Dan Noyes broke the news on Twitter after speaking with Wagstaffe Monday morning.
The DA said, "It simply does not rise to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And when you have cases like that, that aren't rising to the criminal level, but who's right, who's wrong isn't clear. That's when people sue each other. And we refer those cases to civil court."
ORIGINAL EXCLUSIVE REPORT: NorCal sheriff orders raid on Indiana Batmobile garage
Sheriff Carlos Bolanos admits he launched the investigation after one of his donors, Atherton realtor Sam Anagnostou, called to complain that his $210,000 Batmobile had been delayed. Bolanos sent a team of four investigators to raid the Batmobile garage in Logansport, Indiana.
In July, builder Mark Racop told the I-Team, "I was horrified. I've never gone through anything like this ever before in my life."
Turns out the sheriff had never done anything like this before, either. High-level sources in his department say Bolanos has never sent a team of investigators outside the state for a non-violent crime, except for the Batmobile.
Lieutenant Eamonn Allen is his press officer.
Dan Noyes: "Has the sheriff ever sent a team out of state for a non-violent crime besides the Batmobile. I'll get an answer on that?"
Eamon Allen: "Again, I'd have to check. Yeah, but I'll get back to you."
Dan Noyes: "I'd appreciate that, yeah, tomorrow."
Allen now says he needs a week to find the information.
The sheriff has refused our repeated requests for an interview, so last Thursday, Dan Noyes went to the retirement function for his second-in-command, thinking Bolanos had to attend. Lt. Allen told us the sheriff was on vacation, adding, "I'm not in charge of his travel calendar or his schedule."
We also broke the news to Batmobile builder Mark Racop that his criminal case is over. His response: "Holy cow, Dan, what a relief. This has been a 10-week nightmare. And it's finally coming to a close."
Racop is free now to concentrate on his business and his church where he's a minister.
"Thank you so much, Dan, for what you've done. If you had not followed through on those whistleblowers, if you hadn't believed them, this case would have continued and I would have to be in San Mateo on Friday morning. And I thank you so, so much."
Mark Racop is not sure about filing a lawsuit against the sheriff and the county. This case is already costing taxpayers - the expense of sending that team to Indiana; the county hired a personal lawyer for the sheriff because of this issue; and they hired a retired judge to find out how all this happened. Looks like we have at least one more story to do, before we can call it a wrap.
Bolanos continues to refuse my requests for an interview. I went to the retirement function for his second-in-command last Thursday, but Bolanos didn't go.
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