Most of the time, when you – a consumer – purchase an item, you exchange your money, and you get the item. It’s simple. Sometimes, when commissioning a custom vehicle, for example, you pay a portion of the total cost of the vehicle upfront and then make additional payments based on a purchase agreement that both you, the buyer, and the builder have signed. Simple, right? Well, it’s not so simple if you’re Mark Racop, owner of Fibreglass Freaks.
Racop agreed to build one of his officially licensed 1960s Batmobile replicas for Bay Area real estate agent Sam Anagnostou, and despite things going initially well after Anagnostou made his initial $US170,000 ($235,994) payment against a total vehicle cost of around $US210,000 ($291,522), the deal soured soon after. According to a report published Friday by ABC7 Bay Area News, the Atherton, CA-based real estate agent missed a $US20,000 ($27,764) payment which was agreed upon as part of the purchase process, according to a statement by Racop.
Racop claims he made several efforts over several months to contact Anagnostou about the payment. When he received no response, he bumped Anagnostou’s car to the bottom of his nine-vehicle-long build queue adding between 18 and 24 months to his wait. This is where things start to go way off the rails.
Once the car was moved down the list and Anagnostou was informed, he “exploded,” according to Racop, but then proceeded to pay off the remaining balance on the vehicle. Shortly after this, Anagnostou filed a report with his local Atherton police department, which the San Mateo County district attorney denied, opting not to file criminal charges. From there, our intrepid real estate agent also filed a lawsuit in San Mateo County alleging that Racop and Fibreglass Freaks breached their contract and committed fraud. This case was dismissed by a judge who said the suit belonged in Indiana courts.
Then Anagnostou went full “I want to speak to your manager” and reached out to his Facebook pal, San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolano. The realtor allegedly asked the sheriff to intervene, which it appears Bolano did by securing warrants for Racop’s email communications and freezing his bank account. He then, also allegedly, ordered a lieutenant, sergeant and two deputies to fly to Indiana and affect a raid on the Fibreglass Freaks offices.
The raid resulted in Bolano’s deputies taking two files of documents and hauling Racop down to his local police station for an hour before letting him go without arresting him. Later, San Mateo county charged him with two felonies – obtaining money by false pretenses and diversion of construction funds.
Now, this all stinks to me. I want to know how Bolano (who lost his reelection and is getting the boot from office in January) was able to convince a judge in Indiana to authorise search warrants and account freezes for Mark Racop’s business when his own district attorney had previously dismissed Anagnostou’s attempts to press charges. I’ve attempted to contact Judge Stephen Kitts of Cass County, who authorised the search warrant for the San Mateo County sheriff’s officers, to understand what compelling evidence the San Mateo county sheriff provided that convinced him to allow the search, but he didn’t immediately return our request for comment.
I also attempted contacting Sheriff Bolano but was told he was out of the office. Voicemails left with the San Mateo Sheriff’s press information officer have also not been returned. Continuing the theme of being impossible to reach, Sam Anagnostou hasn’t responded to voicemails asking for comment either, all of which leads me to believe that this whole thing blew up in a way that nobody intended, and everyone seems to be circling their wagons.
So, is this a case of a rich, bleached-out boomer getting unnecessarily spicy because he found out that the rules of a signed contract applied to him, an abuse of police power, or is it a legitimate gripe? It’s impossible to say for certain at this point. Still, the San Mateo County district court is set to begin the process of finding out what exactly it was starting on August 19, when Racop will appear before the court for a warrant arraignment.
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