Devil in a Wheelchair?

Pot-club operator's former associate talks back.

Two weeks ago, when the Express recounted the colorful adventures of Berkeley medical pot entrepreneur Ken Estes (“When Pot Clubs Go Bad,” July 24), we reported his claim that his former friend Michael “Rocky” Grunner used to deal crank and other hard drugs out of a room in the back of Estes’ medical marijuana club. At the time, we searched high and low for Grunner for comment, but never found him. After we published, however, he found us and strenuously denied anything to do with crank. Here’s his story — the portions we could publish in a family newspaper, that is:

“This dude is the most evil liar you have ever met in your life,” Grunner says of Estes. “The devil’s in a wheelchair. … [Estes and his brother] are East County scumbags. These people are directly related to fucking Jesse James. There is nobody lower than them. I don’t do crank: I never used crank!”

Let’s back up a second. For those of you who didn’t read the story, Estes set up his medical pot outlet on University Avenue in 2000, and Grunner soon became one of his primary wholesale suppliers. But Grunner started an affair with Stacey Trainor, Estes’ girlfriend and the mother of his three children. This led to a nasty split, and Trainor sicced the cops on Estes, claiming that he’d threatened to kill her. Grunner now says he wishes he had never gotten involved.

“I was under the influence of some nutso drugs at the time,” he says. “I would hang out at [Estes’] house ’cause I was lonely. People would come over, and I’d sell [pot] to them and buy from people Ken knew and sell it to the club, ’cause Ken had no capital. Ken let me use a room in the club, and he would let me sell a quarter-pound at a time. I was moving major weight, I had a really good deal going on, but I fucked up. I was smoking a lot of weed and drinking this kind of cough syrup that I got addicted to. … All of a sudden I find myself making out with this chick. I’m fifty years old, she’s in her twenties. I was having some weird midlife crisis I never thought I would have.”

In fact, Grunner says he wishes he’d never entered the dope trade. “These are northern California freaks. I came from a middle-class family in New York. … I should have been a doctor. Everything I did wrong was because I was stupid.”

Grunner still has hard feelings for Estes, who is paralyzed from the chest down. “Just because he’s in a wheelchair, everyone feels sorry for that prick,” he says. “I hate the handicapped. I would never help out any of these people. They hate you ’cause you’re walking.” As for Trainor, who eventually dumped him, Grunner says, “She met a guy up [in Kelseyville], and she got all this blond hair. You know the women up in Lake County, they’re ugly as shit. They’re fuckin’ haggin’, they make Berkeley women look good. So I come up there in January, and instead of telling me it’s over, she says we shouldn’t see each other for a while. She went to visit her mother in Canada, and that’s the last I saw of her. I went into an emotional downspin, it really hurt bad. I treated her kids really well. I taught them how to eat Hebrew fucking hot dogs. Before that, they didn’t know enough to eat Hebrew, they just ate the regular hot dogs. These people don’t have any fucking class.”

Clearly, Mr. Grunner is bitter. But as he says, he has only himself to blame for getting so involved. “I was under the influence of all this shit: the money, the pussy, the drugs,” he says.

We contacted Ken Estes, who denies letting Grunner deal large amounts of pot: “I never knew about that. I said to him, ‘I’m medical.’ He said, ‘Well, I’m not.’ I said, ‘Get out of my shop.’ I got played for a fool. But my innocence is gone. I don’t trust anyone now. … That guy’s a loser. You talk to him for a few minutes, and you want to punch him.”

As Paul Harvey says, now you know the rest of the story.

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