Is Randy Morgan Laguna's Artful Dodger?

The creator of Laguna Beach's Waterman's Wall wants to make amends to the art world, but can he outrun his past?

Lundberg spoke with police and considered filing a lawsuit against Morgan, but in the end, she opted to just move on and be done with the entire affair.

"It was too emotionally hard for me at the time," says Lundberg. "The piece is in our entrance now. I'm not going to say that it's bad—because everybody likes it—but there were things I told him I did not want, and he did them anyway. Had I known what was going to happen, I would never have gotten involved with him."

"I never heard a complaint from her about what we were doing and where we were going," a surprised Morgan says when told of Lundberg's feelings. "We talked about it every step of the way. I don't understand why she's unhappy now."

Jared Boggess
Waterman’s Wall
Dustin Ames
Waterman’s Wall

"The bottom line is, the Lundberg piece is a fantastic piece of work," says Cairns. "We would like to be able to use her as a reference, so it's really distressing to hear that she's unhappy."

Maria Heredia co-owns the Original Cast Foundry in Buena Park. She says Morgan wound up owing her $20,000.

"He came to us to do molten castings [in] about 2005," Heredia recalls. "He would take a long time to pay us back. His debt started to get bigger and bigger, and we never heard from him again until just recently. We didn't take him to court or sue him because we were going through hard times, so we just let it go. We knew that he would come back sooner or later because we still have his molds here."

Where Lundberg and Heredia are concerned, Morgan appears to truly want to repair any ill will. When told the Weekly had interviewed Lundberg and Heredia for this story, Morgan phoned both up, telling Heredia he would like to work with her foundry again and asking Lundberg if he could come up and correct any issues she has.

In a follow-up interview, Heredia says, "Until we settle what is pending, then we'll decide what's going to happen. He wants to be our customer again, but if we do business, it's going to have to be cash up front."

Lundberg sounds as if she's in a less forgiving mood. "He called me, and I spoke with him as briefly as possible," she says. "He said he wanted to fix things and put on another coat or something, and I told him that wasn't necessary, it's just fine the way it is. He tried to have a conversation, but I just wasn't interested in small talk. It kind of ruined my whole day. One of my girls asked me what was wrong, and I told her who called, and she said no wonder I don't feel well."

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There are other stories of Morgan running up huge tabs.

Kara Lubin contacted Morgan in 2009 looking to get custom medals made for the 100 Mile Club, a nonprofit national organization she founded that gives special needs kids a goal of running 100 miles in a single school year.

"I paid him $1,400 in the beginning, and then one day, he called me, very frantically demanding more money," Lubin says. "He actually drove to my school to get money and came on to the campus. That's when I started feeling a little bit uncomfortable. Then we started getting really close to the deadline. I had 10,000 kids counting on me, kids who made a commitment to running 100 miles, and the end-of-the-year medal ceremony has always been very special, so not having the medals wasn't an option."

Lubin was forced to order stock medals just to make the ceremony deadline. She can't recall the exact amount she wound up giving Morgan, but she estimates it was at least $4,000.

"It worked out, but it was a really bad experience," Lubin says. "I cut my losses and just knew I wasn't going to see the medals or the money ever again. For a young nonprofit to lose that much money, it was very painful."

Lubin also filed a statement with the Laguna Beach Police Department to get the incident on record. She never heard from Morgan again—he never called to apologize, never explained what happened.

"I wanted to finish the product at the end," Morgan now explains, "and then she didn't want to do it—said don't worry about it, we'll do them next year. To tell you the truth, I don't remember exactly how it went, but I know it was a mess. So I'm foggy on the details, but it's an issue that I need to deal with, and I'm willing to make the medals for her for anything she wants to do now, whatever I need to do."

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Morgan says he has been clean since finishing an extended stay at a sober-living house in San Clemente two years ago, a price he paid for violating parole—the judge recommended no prison time after being impressed by Morgan's "great strides."

But moving forward and presenting himself as someone who's genuinely reformed, Morgan understands, may always be difficult, if not impossible.

"There's a fear Randy has with all these people chasing him," Cairns says. "Will they put him back in a negative place and get him to the point where he'll drink and use drugs again—or ends up in jail again? That scares the hell out of him."

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