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Someone Embezzled a Lot of Money to Buy Expelliarmus, a Luxury Sea Ray 460 Sundancer Yacht

Any millennial’s obsession with Harry Potter memorabilia is nothing compared to this: three men from Bridgeport, Connecticut, embezzled a lot of money in order to buy a luxury yacht named after a popular (and fictional) Harry Potter spell.
A 2018 Sea Ray Sundancer 460 boat, selling on the used market for $770,000 12 photos
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William A. Kowalski has admitted to his part in an embezzling scheme that saw him, his brother Robert (aka “Bob the Builder,” a Chicago lawyer and small-time developer) and late banker John Gembara of the now-defunct Washington Federal Bank For Savings, conspire to embezzle funds to purchase the boat. For his cooperation in the ongoing investigation, which centers on Gembara and a wider, $82.6 million fraud scheme, Kowalski will probably not see a day in prison as long as he keeps up with retribution payments.

At the center of this deferred-prosecution agreement is Expelliarmus, a 46-foot (14-meter) boat that, as of 2019, has disappeared off the face of the earth. Expelliarmus is one of the most used spells in the Harry Potter universe, which disarms the opponent by making him or her drop the wand. Some “magic” seems at play here, too: in 2019, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that not a single person of all those involved (and their families) knew where the boat was.

The yacht in question is a Sea Ray 460 Sundancer, which usually retails for anything between $150,000 and $800,000, depending on size, model year, and features. The Kowalskis and Gembara decided to purchase it in 2007, with Gembara providing the funds from his bank without proper documentation and, for that matter, without any intention on the part of the three to ever repay the loan, according to the same media outlet.

An initial downpayment of $190,000 was provided upon acquiring the boat, with a contract for another $200,000 drawn up but never executed. The bank was shut down in 2017, shortly after Gembara was found deceased in the house of a friend and co-conspirator. In March 2018, Robert Kowalski, who is also being prosecuted, declared bankruptcy, stating the value of the boat was $180,000 – a far cry from the $450,000 they said they bought it for.

Before the magic act of disappearing, Expelliarmus would usually moor at Chicago’s Burnham Harbor. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and is described as luxurious but on the smaller side.

Editor's note: Photos in the gallery show the Sea Ray Sundancer 370 Outboard, developed in collaboration with BMW's DesignWorks.

 
 
 
 
 

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