Clown-suited blackmailer convicted

A man has been convicted of extortion in a bizarre scheme that involved collecting the loot while wearing a clown suit and riding a miniature bicycle. Frank Salvador Solorza targetted his immigrant cousins in Redwood City, sending letters and calling them, posing as an immigration officer who threatened to deport them unless they paid him $50,000 to ensure that their papers "would be good forever." The family called the police, who worked with them to arrest the blackmailer, who called and told them that the money would be collected by "a man in a clown suit and riding a small bicycle."

Solorza was arrested after picking up a bag which he believed contained $50,000, wearing "a clown suit, a clown glitter wig, a Pirates of the Caribbean hat (complete with dreadlocks), and sunglasses." He was riding a small bicycle. He was carrying a receipt for the outfit from the House of Humor costume store in Redwood City. Perhaps he intended to return it after the caper.

Solorza is a cousin of the alleged victims, who emigrated from Mexico. The father of four said three Norteno gang members had put him up to the scam.

The feds didn't buy that.

"Nortenos always dress in their colors; they don't use disguises, let alone engage in crimes wearing clown suits," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Barry and Denise Marie Barton wrote in a sentencing memo filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland.

Blackmailer in a clown suit gets 3 years (via Lowering the Bar)

(Image: Clown, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from chris-rice's photostream)


  1. “Nortenos always dress in their colors; they don’t use disguises, let alone engage in crimes wearing clown suits,”

    Great. Now the Surenos’ll be cos-banging in order to implicate the Nortenos who police think will be dressing up because the U. S. Attorneys said they never do. Whatta mess.

  2. This pic looks like it’s straight from Killer Klowns from Outerspace. And the nose looks very, erm, tumescent.

  3. @Cory Warned my girlfriend not to read Boing Boing today. Unnecessarily exacerbating people’s phobias is a good way to create negative reinforcement for your ‘blog. Just sayin’.

  4. Wow, this guy is just not demonstrating intelligence. Not only was he blackmailing his own family, which is a rotten thing to do, and wore a silly costume, and got caught: But, he tried to drop the dime on a real gang, unsuccesfully. Wonder what his life expectancy is in prison once the gang members find out what he tried to do.

  5. I remember a similar Clown Caper here in Toronto a number of years ago. The guy parked a stolen car across the street from a big money clearing house downtown: an armoured car depot or some such. Then changed into his clown suit and held the place up. The idea was to jump in the getaway car, ride off to a garage where he had another car stashed, ditch the original car and the clown suit there and take off in the new car. But he dropped the keys to the car on the floor in the washroom where he switched clothes. The cops found him in the car across the street, crying on the inside.

  6. uh, unicorn chaser? my flu-addled brain sent messages to my face showing how disgusted I was, but noone on the internet saw that. the puppy was cute, but not enough (imo) to make up for that image *geh*

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