UPDATE: I spoke with Mark Racop of Fiberglass Freaks on the phone regarding the case and raid this week. On August 19th Mark will appear in a San Mateo County courtroom to plead “not guilty” to the allegation of fraud. Sam Anagnostou claims Racop and his company defrauded him, but the defendant could not speak about further details in the criminal case.
Mr. Racop mentioned that the people sent from the San Mateo Sheriff’s office did “rough” him up, and the local police on the scene did nothing and allowed this weirdness to play out unquestioned. Racop was asked to stay silent, which is about the only favor the local police did in his favor. How a civil dispute turned into an expensive criminal investigation is still unclear, and we won’t know the reason why the San Mateo DA reversed course on their decision not to file charges against Mark Racop.
Racop stated that the time to build Batmobiles has only increased due to the pandemic and supply chain issues. Where a typical base model would take about two years, it is now taking three. In addition, the strain the criminal case is putting on Racop and his finances may cause further delays. This means that even if Sam Anagnostou is successful with whatever he tries to prove in court, he may not see his customized Batmobile for many years.
Setting aside the impartiality I should have as a journalist; I will say that I found Mark to be a very earnest and kind gentleman. He loves Batman, and the ’66 Batmobile he turned into a thriving business that DC Comics recognized. As someone who has also dealt in the prop and replica market, I know that some customers can be very pushy, especially when they’re wealthy. Unfortunately, that wealth sometimes comes with entitlement that blinds the person to the reality of the situation and over-inflates their expectations. I believe this is the case with Sam Anagnostou.
Court cases, civil or criminal, are not inexpensive. They drain bank accounts and the soul. Mark Racop is very thankful for all the positivity shown towards him and Fiberglass Freaks after the airing of the ABC7 investigation. While positive comments go a long way in righting some of the alleged wrongs, there’s still the issue of the financial burden the case puts on him. So, Racop has started a GoFundMe called Justice For Batman. The donations will go towards Racop’s costs to battle this case in a court several states away from his home.
The original story follows below:
Only one automotive shop in the US can make officially licensed ’66 Batmobiles. That place is Fiberglass Freaks of Logansport, Indiana. The specialty car manufacturer is run by Mark Racop, a massive fan of Batman, specifically Adam West’s version from the mid-1960s. Since 2010, Racop has been producing faithful recreations of George Barris’s iconic customized Lincoln Futura, with seemingly no issues until now.
ABC7 recently published an investigation that looked into why Fiberglass Freaks was raided by a Sheriff from several states away. It all started when Mark Racop’s company took an order from real estate broker Sam Anagnostou. According to the information gathered by ABC7, Anagnostou made a downpayment on his Batmobile but failed to make another scheduled payment to Fiberglass Freaks.
Mark Racop claims that the real estate agent vanished for several months, which left him with no choice but to push the production of Anagnostou’s order to the end of the production line. The delay meant Sam would not see his Batmobile for over a year, possibly two. Eventually, Anagnostou did pay his bill, but this damage was done, and Racop says his customer was quite angry, “He didn’t like that, he exploded. He did pay off the entire car at that point, but he was absolutely livid to find out that his car was going to be delayed.”
This is where things get very fishy. Anagnostou tried to get the law involved in a business matter. The San Mateo County District Attorney issued a letter to Racop saying that no charges were coming his way at that time. Sam also filed a lawsuit in San Mateo, but it was tossed out because this issue would need to be settled in Indiana rather than California.
Possibly out of options to get his luxury item as fast as possible, Anagnostou may have called in a favor with his Facebook friend and San Mateo County Sheriff, Carlos Bolanos. What happened next sounds like a significant misuse of taxpayer money and police misconduct. Bolanos sent four people from his department to Logansport, Indiana, where they seized evidence from Fiberglass Freaks on July 19th.
The search warrant would only let the SMCS take items strictly pertaining to Anagnostou’s order. These included just some documents and not the unfinished Batmobile, but the search warrant extended to Racop’s Gmail and led to his bank account being frozen. Racop was taken to the local jail for a short time and released.
The San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney, Marie McLaughlin, refused to speak about what led to the search warrant being issued after Anagnostou failed to get a criminal and civil case off the ground. Nor did she elaborate on the possibility that Anagnostou’s connection with the Sherrif was a possible ethics issue.
Currently, ABC7 has been unable to interview Sheriff Bolanos or Sam Anagnostou.
Now, does this sound like a reasonable thing for an out-of-state Sheriff’s office to do? This trip included flights, hotels, rental cars, and probably per diem allowances for all involved. All this because a wealthy guy missed a payment and wasn’t getting his $210k Batmobile as fast as possible.[Source: ABC7 News Bay Area] [Source: ABC7]