A Wyoming man pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon in San Mateo County Superior Court to charges in connection with the theft of a yacht from the Sausalito Yacht Harbor two days before.
Two other people who were arrested in connection with the theft were not being charged and they were released earlier Wednesday from jail, San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Al Serrato said.
Leslie Gardner, 63, pleaded not guilty to grand theft, receiving stolen property in excess of $3.2 million and vandalism, Serrato said.
He was being held in the San Mateo County jail under $1 million bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 18, Serrato said.
The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office decided that morning not to file charges against Dario Mora, 54, and Lisa Modawell, 56, both of Aptos, because Gardner told them he inherited the boat and there was no reason for Modawell and Mora to disbelieve him, Serrato said.
"We're viewing them as witnesses," Serrato said.
The prosecution believes it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt Mora and Modawell knew the 82-foot sailing vessel "Darling" was stolen, Serrato said.
The couple, who are dating, met Gardner through a mutual friend three or four days ago in Santa Cruz, and a fourth person drove all three to Sausalito in a truck then left, Serrato said.
Although he is from Wyoming, Gardner has connections to people in the area, Serrato said.
The yacht ran aground in shallow water near Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica around 5:20 a.m. Monday.
Sausalito police received a call around 8 a.m. from the owner of the yacht who said it was stolen from the Sausalito Yacht Harbor, Sausalito police Sgt. Bill Fraass said.
Fraass said the yacht owner was watching the news about the beached vessel when he recognized it was his boat.
San Mateo County sheriff's deputies used jet skis to remove Gardner, Mora and Modawell from the yacht that was stuck in about four feet of water.
The yacht owner contracted a salvage team to free the vessel and it was towed to Richmond for repairs.
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