DA Charges One Sailboat Thief, Sets Others Free

The plot of this sailboat caper gets even thicker

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Thursday, Mar 7, 2013  |  Updated 10:52 AM PDT
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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.

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.

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Stolen Sailboat Towed to Richmond

After a dramatic and amazing caper involving three suspects charged with stealing a sailboat from Sausalito and getting the craft stuck on a sandbar in Pacifica, the "Darling" was hauled to Richmond on Tuesday for repairs. Christie Smith reports.

3 Arrested After Stolen Sausalito Boat Runs Aground

Crews on Monday morning were at first dispatched to save a wayward sailboat off the coast of Pacifica. But hours into the odd rescue, the three aboard a sailboat named the Darling were arrested after the 82-foot boat was reported stolen out of the affluent city of Sausalito. NBC Bay Area's Joe Rosato Jr. reports.
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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.

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