Nov 122010

Tower District medical marijuana clinic operator Rick Morse was booked into Fresno County Jail on Thursday after investigators uncovered an alleged plot by Morse to kidnap a Fresno city attorney.

Morse, who was booked into and released from the jail three times earlier this year because of overcrowding, was being held on suspicion of battery and attempted kidnapping stemming from the incident in May.

Sheriff’s officials said Thursday the attempted kidnapping count makes Morse ineligible for release despite overcrowding, the Fresno Bee reports.

On May 17, Morse allegedly tried to arrest and handcuff Michael Flores, a Fresno deputy city attorney, in front of the Fresno County Courthouse because Flores had filed the city’s injunction that led to the closure of Morse’s Olive Avenue clinic, Medmar.

Sheriff’s bailiffs quickly broke up the confrontation. Morse and his son, Brandon, were cited on misdemeanors and released. Bailiffs seized the handcuffs as evidence.

Fresno County sheriff’s spokesman Chris Curtice said Rick Morse was cited on one charge of battery.

After investigators discovered a possible plot by the Morses to kidnap Flores and take him to the state attorney general’s office in Sacramento, arrest warrants were issued for the father and son on suspicion of attempted kidnapping, Curtice said.

Sheriff’s officials could not be reached Thursday to give further details on the alleged kidnapping plot.

Brandon Morse was arrested in Santa Barbara County on Nov. 5 and was later released on bond.

Rick Morse turned himself in to Santa Barbara County sheriff’s officials Wednesday. Fresno deputies transported him from Santa Barbara to Fresno on Thursday.

Lt. John Copher at Fresno County Jail said the attempted kidnapping count against Morse makes him ineligible for release due to crowding.

In February, Morse went on a hunger strike in jail following his arrest on charges of violating the court order that prohibits marijuana dispensaries. He was released a week later after posting $5,000 bail.

In May, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Franson Jr. ordered Morse to spend 15 days in jail for violating the court order. Morse was released due to jail crowding and returned to custody three times before the sentence could be completed.

A man who answered a phone listed for Rick Morse on Thursday declined to identify himself and said, “I have no comment for The Fresno Bee whatsoever.”

Brandon Morse called The Bee later and referred comments to Chuck Leonard of Fresno, who hosts a local Internet and television talk show.

Charges in the warrants are “allegations,” Leonard said. “Until [Rick and Brandon Morse] get to court, this is all hearsay.”

Leonard defended the Morses’ attempt to arrest Flores. “They were trying a citizen’s arrest, which is legal to do,” he said. “Just because he’s a city attorney doesn’t mean he’s above the law. The handcuffs never went on.”

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