A Willits man is behind bars, accused of trying to bribe a deputy into ignoring his 365-plant pot garden.

"I don't know what that guy was thinking," said Mendocino County Sheriff's Lt. Rusty Noe. "Whatever it was, he wasn't thinking too hard about it."

Dennis Raymond Gage, 37, was arrested Tuesday morning when he delivered a portion of the supposed bribe -- a late-model pickup -- to the deputy, Noe said.

Gage also had promised to give the deputy an unspecified cut of his profits from the marijuana garden, located in a remote region of Covelo, he said.

Noe said he can't imagine why anyone would believe that a Mendocino County deputy would accept such a bribe.

"People always accuse us of being dirty and taking money from the dope growers," Noe said. "We don't do that here."

Gage, the Sheriff's Office said, contacted the deputy through a third party a few days after helicopters flew over his marijuana garden near Mendocino Pass Road east of Covelo.

Gage offered the deputy goods and cash in exchange for preventing his marijuana garden from being eradicated, Noe said.

The Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force was enlisted to conduct a sting operation after the deputy reported the attempted bribe to his supervisor, Noe said.

During a meeting between Gage and the deputy, it was agreed that Gage would give the deputy a truck and a cut of his profits from the garden, he said.

They had changed the title of the truck into the deputy's name when Gage met the deputy in Willits on Tuesday morning to deliver the vehicle, Noe said.

Gage was arrested and search warrants served on his home in Willits and the marijuana garden, he said.

Law enforcement found 3 pounds of marijuana and $2,000 cash inside the Willits home, Noe said. They arrested two men at the garden site.

John Welde, 24, of Malibu and Benjamin Meadlin, 36, of Willits were arrested on suspicion of marijuana cultivation, Noe said.

Gage was booked on suspicion of marijuana cultivation, possession of marijuana for sale and making bribes to an officer.

He's being held on $1 million bail, Noe said.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.