Man charged with theft for setting 2 boats loose in Duluth Harbor

The charges say he also threatened to blow up a strip club in the area.

An Excelsior man who was accused of setting two boats loose in Duluth Harbor last week has been charged with theft. 

Around 2:47 a.m. on Thursday, two boats from Duluth's Vista Fleet were unmoored and set adrift – without anyone onboard – near the Aerial Lift Bridge.

A 1,000-foot freighter narrowly dodged one of the sightseeing ships

Surveillance video from the area showed a man pushing one of the boats away from the dock. 

At the time, Lt. Chuck O'Connor of the Duluth Police Department told GoMN the task would be "pretty tough" for one person, noting Justin Steinbach – the owner of Vista Fleet – says it takes three crew members to unmoor their ships. 

Authorities have identified the man as 47-year-old Gregory Mark Sullwold. A spokesperson for Vista Fleet told KBJR 6 that Sullwold is a boat mechanic in Minnetonka. 

And he was already in police custody when he confessed to setting the boats adrift.

According to the criminal complaint:

One officer remembered dealing with Sullwold earlier that night. 

He was "causing damage to property and threatening to blow up the Club Saratoga, all located in the Canal Park area, near the area where the Vista Fleet was moored," the complaint says.

Duluth police arrested Sullwood on Friday, on an unrelated warrant out of Hennepin County, the charges say. According to the Duluth News Tribune, Sullwood faces domestic assault charges in the county.

"Upon arrest, on an unrelated warrant out of Hennepin County, Defendant was particularly interested in, as he put it, the boats floating on the harbor. He also seemed to boast of his knowledge in boats," the complaint says.

Authorities say Sullwood confessed during an interview with investigators.

He's been charged with felony theft-indifferent to owner rights, and faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine if convicted.

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