Man arrested after pot-laden car found

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comOctober 23, 2012 

A 28-year-old Merced parolee was arrested on five felony charges Monday -- including possession of a handgun and drug charges -- after officers noticed him struggling to start his car.

Officer James Lodwick was driving near West Olive Avenue in Merced when he noticed leaking fluid and smoke coming from a green Honda Accord parked at the gas station on 190 W. Olive Ave., according to Sgt. Scott Skinner.

Lodwick asked the man inside the car, identified as Benjamin Herbert Goddard, if he needed any help. Skinner said the officer could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car.

Goddard admitted to the officer that he was on parole and had a .25-caliber handgun concealed in the waistband of his pants. Police found 23 pounds of marijuana inside Goddard's car, three pounds of individually wrapped pot inside a duffle bag and more marijuana inside a 5-gallon bucket in the back seat. They also found pot in large plastic trays in the trunk of the car.

Goddard had a medical marijuana card on him. He told officers the marijuana and handgun were given to him by someone who owed him money.

Goddard was booked at Merced County Jail on Monday and is being held without bail.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is requested to call Officer James Lodwick at (209) 385-8840, or the Merced Police Department tip line at (209) 385-4725.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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