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State Attorney General declines to investigate county sheriff’s and DA’s involvement in Batmobile case

The official did not find a ‘compelling need’ for oversight from the state Department of Justice
Mark Racop sits inside one of his custom built Batmobile replicas.

The California Attorney General’s office on Wednesday declined to launch an independent probe into the so-called Batmobile case, according to a letter sent to San Mateo County Executive Michael Callagy.

Carlos Bolanos (cropped)
Carlos Bolanos, San Mateo County Sheriff. courtesy Carlos Bolanos

“Although your letter identifies notable concerns, it does not allege that the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office committed a crime. Nor does it detail anything beyond a criminal investigation,” Special Assistant Attorney General Michael Redding wrote in the letter.

“While the California Department of Justice has the authority to oversee the California Sheriffs and District Attorneys, the Department only takes that extraordinary step when there is a compelling need,” he added.

Redding said that there was nothing in the county’s letter that suggested “the facts contained in the affidavits in support of the warrants were misrepresented or inadequate in any way” and noted that the board had contracted with former Alameda County Judge Winifred Smith to conduct an independent investigation. 

He advised Callagy to reach out if any allegations of wrongdoing come to light in the future.

County Attorney John Nibbelin did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

The County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Attorney General Rob Bonta in mid-August requesting that he begin an inquiry into the recent criminal investigation and the prosecution of Mark Racop, an Indiana businessman who makes and sells 1966-era Batmobiles. 

The request to investigate both Sheriff Carlos Bolanos and the office of District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe came almost one month after Racop’s business, Fiberglass Freaks, in Logansport, Indiana, was raided by four San Mateo County deputy sheriffs at the behest of Bolanos with aid from the Cass County sheriff, who provided one deputy sheriff of his own to serve as a liaison. 

In the letter, the board of supervisors mention that the raid, which has received much public attention and scrutiny from the community, falls under the purview of the AG’s oversight authority, according to the California Constitution. 

Section 13 of the constitution grants the AG authority over the State’s “county sheriffs and district attorneys in matters pertaining to the duties of their respective offices…,” Callagy wrote in the letter to Bonta. “Therefore,... I refer this matter to you for any inquiry or actions that you determine are warranted under the circumstances.”


Leah Worthington

About the Author: Leah Worthington

Leah, a Menlo Park native, joined the Redwood City Pulse in 2021. She covers everything from education and climate to housing and city government. Previously she worked as the online editor for California magazine in Berkeley and co-hosts a podcast.
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