DA Charges One Sailboat Thief, Sets Others Free - NBC 7 San Diego

DA Charges One Sailboat Thief, Sets Others Free

The plot of this sailboat caper gets even thicker



    A sailboat reported being in distress on March 4 at 5:30 a.m. Two passengers were aboard and trying to rock in loose to get to shore. (Published Monday, March 4, 2013)

    Prosecutors on Wednesday charged one man with stealing a sailboat from Sausalito, which ended up getting stuck on a sandbar 20 miles away, but set his two companions free.

    San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Al Serrato charges Leslie Gardner, 63, of Wyoming with five felonies including grand theft, possession of a stolen boat and vandalism. Gardner entered a not guilty plea at the hearing.

    But prosecutors let Dario Mira and Lisa Modawell, both of Aptos, go.

    Serrato told NBC Bay Area that Gardner met the Aptos couple "three or four days ago" and convinced them that he had just inherited a multimillion-dollar sailboat, called the Darling, which was docked at the Sausalito Yacht Harbor. The couple, he said, apparently didn't know the boat was stolen.

    Serrato said he he now treating the couple as witnesses. He added that he didn't really know why the couple believed Gardner's tale.

    The sailboat the three were on got stuck about 5:30 a.m. Monday at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica. At first, the Coast Guard tried to rescue the trio, but they refused help. News crews came to film the scene.

    The owner of the Darling spotted his vessel on TV, and called Sausalito police to report it missing. Law enforcement agencies surrounded the beach in Pacifica, some officers with guns drawn. Finally, the three surrendered and were taken into custody.

    Now, only Gardner is in jail on $1.01 million bail.

    The boat suffered at least $500,000 in damage to its rudder, propeller and hull and was taken to Richmond for repairs.

    The owner of the Darling has declined all comment.

     Related story: 

    Bail for Sausalito Sailboat Suspects Set at $1M

    Three Arrested After Stolen Sausalito Boat Runs Aground

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-432-4758 or lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com.