San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Al Serrato said Dario Mira, 54, and Lisa Modawell, 56, were freed Wednesday after investigators determined Leslie Gardner, 63, of Gillette, Wyo., had duped them into thinking he owned the boat early Monday morning, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.
The couple believed they were going on a late-night cruise with Gardner, who they had met a few days prior to the incident.
Gardner appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court on five felony charges Wednesday, including grand theft, possession of a stolen boat and vandalism. His bail was set at $1 million.
The 82-foot Darling sailboat is valued at $2.8 million.