The owner of a fake Bay Area furniture store was arrested on charges of running an illegal and deceptive operation where none of the chairs and tables were for sale – they were part of a front, authorities said, for growing $2 million worth of pot plants in the back.
Phuc Nguyen, 39, of Gilroy, owner of Gilroy Furniture & More, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of stealing electricity and illegally growing more than 1,000 marijuana plants, according to Santa Clara County Sheriff's Sgt. Kurtis Stenderup.
It was not immediately clear if Nguyen were being represented by an attorney.
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Nguyen's arrest inside the shop, in the 7500 block of Monterey Road, was the culmination of a monthslong investigation by the sheriff's Marijuana Eradication Team and Gilroy police, authorities said.
His arrest came after a related arrest earlier this month, Stenderup said, when Tuan Dan Nguyen, 50, was allegedly caught with 320 pounds of marijuana plants valued at $700,000 in a warehouse on Tomkins Court. That find led investigators to the faux furniture store.
Gilroy Furniture & More purported to be a furniture store, with an array of couches, tables and chairs flanking the front of the store. The store was decorated with colorful flags and vases of flowers. But Stenderup said none of the furniture was for sale.
“We don't see a lot of storefront operations with a large-scale illegal enterprise going on in the back,” Stenderup said. “I think in the movies and on TV they like to think it happens all the time, but in reality, we just don't see that level of sophistication."
In the back of the shop, officers found more than 1,000 marijuana plants and more than 50 pounds of processed marijuana valued at more than $2 million. Stenderup added that Nguyen had allegedly bypassed the electrical meter to get $80,000 worth of illegally obtained water and light for the plants, which were not up to code, creating a huge fire hazard.
Nguyen is being held on $200,000 bail.
NBC Bay Area's Robert Handa contributed to this report.