‘Bad Elmo’s’ troubled past exposed in court
A San Francisco Superior Court judge lowered the bail Thursday for a Fisherman’s Wharf street performer with a history of questionable behavior who allegedly threatened to kill a female shopkeeper while dressed as the Sesame Street character Elmo.
Adam Sandler, who is also known by the name Daniel Sandler and has been referred to as “Bad Elmo” and “Evil Elmo” in the media, was arrested on Oct. 24 after he allegedly threatened a shopkeeper who put a sign in her store window stating that the man dressed as Elmo was not an employee of her store.
When the woman refused to take the sign down, Sandler allegedly threatened to rip the woman’s throat out, according to Karen Catalona, an assistant district attorney who works on the San Francisco District Attorney’s Neighborhood Prosecutor’s team.
Sandler, a heavyset Caucasian man with brown and gray hair that falls past his chin, arrived in a courtroom at the San Francisco Hall of Justice today in an orange prison uniform.
He has been in custody since his arrest, with bail initially set at $250,000. Superior Court Judge Tracie L. Brown lowered his bail to $150,000 after hearing comments regarding the case from the defendant’s attorney Rafael Trujillo and assistant district attorney Catalona.
Catalona said many businesses have provided statements about Sandler’s problematic, if not illegal, behavior exhibited during his time working at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Those statements allege that Sandler yells at tourists who take his photo without tipping him, that he falsely claims to work at stores at Fisherman’s Wharf and that he intimidates merchants, employees and tourists with offensive rants.
Janae, a manager of candy store IT’SUGAR located at Fisherman’s Wharf, said today that she remembers frequently seeing the man dressed up as Elmo outside the store where she works. She said that Elmo would pose for photos with people and then ask for donations.
Janae said she thought the man was suffering from delusions, as he often told the store’s potential customers that the candy store was operated by the pharmaceutical industry.
The candy store manager said she learned about Sandler’s history via the media and that while he never set foot in the store, she said she thought it was “creepy” that he was standing outside a candy store, a place which attracts many children.
Sandler also has a criminal background in other cities and countries, which Catalona brought up in court today. She said Sandler was previously deported from Cambodia for running a pornography website called “Welcome to Rape Camp.”
When Catalona attempted to cite popular news articles and medical journal entries written about Sandler, Judge Brown stopped her, saying she was only interested in legal documents about his case.
Catalona said Sandler was more recently bench warranted in Los Angeles in 2010 and that in 2012 he faced charges of felony extortion of the Girl Scouts of the USA.
Trujillo said that many of the complaints filed against his client are related to his aggressive solicitation in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, but that his client was often exercising his First Amendment rights
. Trujillo asked the court to release Sandler on his own recognizance and allow Sandler to prove that he can abide by a stay-away order prohibiting him from going to that part of the city. Catalona said Sandler was not only a threat to the public, but a flight risk as well.
Both Trujillo and Catalona confirmed Sandler has been living in a van near Stern Grove in the Sunset District for the past eight months and that he lives a transient lifestyle, often traveling between Los Angeles, Hawaii and San Francisco.
Sandler’s father, who resides in Ashland, Oregon, has offered to pay the expenses to place Sandler in a treatment facility in that state, Trujillo said today.
Catalona said if released from jail, Sandler would likely leave the state and head up to Oregon.