Pot bust targets local Internet tycoon

A consortium of local law enforcement agencies converged simultaneously on three locations in Chico last week that police said were linked to a marijuana growing operation run by a family that also owns the majority interest in a local Internet service provider.

Police arrested Shocking.com part-owner Richard Bruce Morgan, 30, and his wife Sara Courtney Morgan, 27, at their home on La Linda Lane last week on suspicion of converting a rental house on Arbutus Avenue into a high-tech grow room.

Headed up by the Butte Interagency Narcotics Task Force, cops from all over Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties raided the couple’s home, the rental house and the downtown offices of Shocking.com after a two-month investigation convinced police that the Morgans were growing marijuana for sale. Police said they seized 442 marijuana plants of various sizes at the Arbutus Avenue house, in addition to a small amount of pot at the couple’s residence and a .22 rifle at the Shocking.com office.

The couple posted bail soon after their arrest and will be arraigned later this month on charges of cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale, as well as on child endangerment charges that police said were levied because of a small amount of cannabis found at the couple’s home. The couple’s two children, one 4 years old and the other 21 months old, were present during the raid. They were taken from the Morgans and delivered to Child Protective Services but were returned the day after the arrests took place.

Bruce Morgan, who goes by his middle name, said he could not discuss specifics of the case. But he was quick to emphatically state that Shocking.com, a private corporation of which he owns about 64 percent, was a legitimate business with absolutely no ties to the charges currently pending against him.

“The business is not related to this incident,” he said. “They think I was laundering money through the business, but it will only take a short amount of time to prove that’s not true.”

Morgan said the company had lost no customers over the flap, adding that while about five people had called with negative comments, it has received between 50 and 75 calls of support.