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Man arrested after Hernando deputies find drugs in bookbag

SPRING HILL — A Spring Hill man was arrested on various charges, including child neglect, after authorities said that during a traffic stop a deputy found marijuana and illegal prescription drugs in a bookbag that a 9-year-old girl was holding.

A deputy stopped Joseph Charles Pendola, 30, at Mariner and Landover boulevards Thursday after Pendola did not make a complete stop in his 2002 Cadillac Escalade, a Hernando County Sheriff's Office report said.

The deputy issued him a written warning, the report said, and then asked him whether he had anything illegal in the sport utility vehicle; Pendola told him he didn't. When the deputy asked to search the vehicle, authorities said, Pendola allowed it.

Pendola told the three other people in the SUV to get out, including the 9-year-old girl — identified only as a family member — the report said. It added that Pendola told her to remove a bookbag when she got out.

The report said the deputy found a 9 mm pistol stuffed into the rear of Pendola's waistband and another in the Escalade's center console. He has a valid concealed weapons permit.

Then, authorities said, the deputy asked to inspect the girl's bookbag. Nervously, the report said, Pendola handed it to him.

Inside it, the deputy found a tube with white residue and a plastic pill crusher, authorities said. Also, in a plastic container, he found four plastic bags filled with marijuana, authorities said.

The report said the deputy also spotted a locked black box, and Pendola gave him the key to open it. Authorities said that within the box the deputy found four tablets of a narcotic for which Pendola did not have a prescription.

Pendola, the report said, then told the deputy the bookbag was his and not the girl's; he had told the deputy it was hers because Pendola thought it would discourage the deputy from searching it.

Pendola was arrested on five felony counts, and his bail was set at $25,000.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or jcox@sptimes.com.

Man arrested after Hernando deputies find drugs in bookbag 03/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 8:05pm]

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