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Three Men Embezzled $190,000 to Buy Boat Named After Harry Potter’s Favorite Spell

A revelation from the 2017 Washington Federal Bank for Saving scandal in Bridgeport, Illinois

embezzle harry potter boat spell expelliarmus
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner Bros.) and a Sea Ray 460 Sundancer (image via BoatTrader.com)
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    Expecto jailtonus! Three men embezzled $190,000 to buy a boat named “Expelliarmus,” which Harry Potter fans will recognize as the boy wizard’s favorite disarming spell.

    According to reporting by the Chicago Sun-Times, it’s part of the broader fallout of the 2017 Washington Federal Bank for Saving scandal in Bridgeport, Illinois. In addition to other shady practices, bank president John Gembara helped William A. Kowalski and his brother Robert Kowalski turn $0 into $190,000 through the dark magic of illegal accounting.

    Together, the trio purchased the “Expelliarmus” Sea Ray 420 Sundancer motor yacht with a down payment of $200,000, including a $190,000 Washington Federal check that William Kowalski endorsed over to the seller of the boat, plus $10,000 from one of the Kowalski’s accounts at Washington Federal. The total purchase price was $450,000. It’s unclear if any of the men were fans of Harry Potter, or if they merely wanted a yacht that they couldn’t afford.

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    According to a deferred prosecution agreement signed by William Kowalski, he “had never executed any documents to legally obtain the money,” and “never intended to repay this $190,000 to Washington Federal.” Via the terms of the agreement, he can avoid prison so long as he cooperates with the feds and makes his scheduled restitution payments.

    As is often the case with the dark arts, this story does not have a happy ending. Gembara killed himself in 2017, shortly before his embezzlement became public. So far, 15 people have been charged as part of the investigation, including Chicago Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson, who has pleaded not guilty.

    If you’re looking for happier news, maybe skip past Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s latest transphobic tweets and the firing of a star actor in the Broadway Production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Earlier this month, the cast reunited for the HBO Max special Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to HogwartsRevisit the five biggest revelations now.

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