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The Case Of The Quick-Changing Contractor – What Really Happened On Lucas Court?


One of the strangest cases to cross the police blotters in Lamorinda in recent years will be played out in a Martinez courtroom.

Walnut Creek contractor Tod Morton will stand trial for allegedly scaring a Nicaraguan day laborer witless when he surprised the man by appearing in police uniform, handcuffed him, and tried to get him to drink a mysterious pink liquid before the man could free himself and flee a Lafayette home.

Morton faces felony robbery and false imprisonment charges for picking up Juan Morales, 43, at the Concord Home Depot store one day last October and bringing him to a home on Lucas Court to do some yard work. It was there, Morales told investigators, that Morton allegedly directed Morales to a storeroom inside the home, briefly left and reappeared wearing a police uniform. Morales said Morton handcuffed him, searched him, took his cell phone and a pocket knife and said he was going to “arrest” Morales for being in the country illegally.

Morales also testified at a preliminary hearing Monday that Morton produced a strange pink liquid and ordered him to drink it several times, with Morales refusing.

Morton left the room and was rummaging in a nearby closet when Morales, still handcuffed, slipped past the contractor and raced barefoot onto Lucas Court where he alerted shocked neighbors with his cries of “Help me, Help me!”

Lafayette police found a chaotic scene upon arrival, with Morton telling officers he had just prevented Morales from stealing from the residence. But police took the contractor into custody and he remains free on $125,000 bail. His next court date has been set for Nov. 12.

Investigators have not said what tests performed on the mysterious pink liquid have revealed, if anything.

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