DiMatteo enters guilty plea to federal pot charges


Updated: Jan. 9 10:55am

Gino DiMatteo, 43, of South Lake Tahoe pleaded guilty today to possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.

A bail review hearing is scheduled for this afternoon at 2. Sentencing is set for April 17 before U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. While the maximum penalty is 30 years in federal prison, a plea agreement calls for five years.

“As part of his plea agreement, DiMatteo specifically admitted that he possessed the marijuana seized from his residence on Aug. 31, 2012, with intent to distribute it to others,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jan. 9 in a press release.

DiMatteo was arrested in August on state charges that were eventually dropped when federal charges were levied against him. While he had owned the medical marijuana dispensary City of Angels II in South Lake Tahoe, it’s the marijuana found at his residence that led to the arrest.

Detectives said they found a hidden door that led to several rooms under the structure. Court documents reveal that the rooms were used to grow marijuana. Five pounds of processed marijuana and 15 pounds of marijuana residue used for cooking edibles were confiscated. Finished marijuana products like ice cream, granola bars and pizzas were found in a freezer in DiMatteo’s detached garage, according to authorities.

The press release further states, “Within a desk inside the kitchen area, as well as inside a desk in the living room area of DiMatteo’s residence, detectives found pay/owe sheets. In particular, DiMatteo had notes setting the price of the marijuana sold at a South Lake Tahoe marijuana dispensary known as City of Angels II. On a separate set of documents, DiMatteo listed the various amounts paid. DiMatteo lists himself receiving $7,000 biweekly.”


By Kathryn Reed

Gino DiMatteo is going to prison.

“He is going to plead guilty tomorrow morning,” his attorney Don Heller told Lake Tahoe News on Tuesday.

The former owner of City of Angels II medical marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe will be in court Jan. 9 in Sacramento where he is expected to admit to marijuana trafficking.

The South Lake Tahoe resident had been indicted in November on three federal charges – conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute marijuana; possession with intent to distribute marijuana; and manufacture marijuana. Had the case gone to trial and DiMatteo were convicted on all three charges, he could have faced 60 years to life in prison and fines of more than $30 million.

Gino DiMatteo

Instead, in a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DiMatteo will be in federal prison for five years.

The judge on Wednesday will set a sentencing date. At sentencing is when the other charges would be dropped.

Heller would not talk more about his client or the case. This means it is not known what happens to DiMatteo’s business – Push Fitness in South Lake Tahoe – or his house.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier told Lake Tahoe News if DiMatteo were convicted of at least one of the offenses, he would have to give up all his property deemed to have been associated with or bought by money from drug transactions.

DiMatteo was arrested in August by El Dorado County investigators. Those charges were all dropped simultaneously as the federal charges were leveled against him. However, not everyone caught in law enforcement’s web has been exonerated.

In August, DiMatteo was accused of bribing a public official. El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson fingered South Lake Tahoe City Councilwoman Angela Swanson as that official. However, no charges have been filed against her. LTN again tried to reach Pierson; again with no call back.

A Nov. 2 press release from Pierson’s office says, “… the investigation into certain South Lake Tahoe City officials as to their dealings with DiMatteo is ongoing.”

Swanson told Lake Tahoe News neither she nor her attorney has had contact with Pierson since August. She added that Pierson doesn’t return her attorney’s calls either.




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Comments (20)
  1. Mike Thompson says - Posted: January 8, 2013

    (This my opinion)
    I believe the WAR ON DRUGS has been the most divisive, intrusive, invasion of American freedom in American History. I think our grandchildren will look at this episode in history and compare it with the Salem Witch hunts of the 17th Century
    I have no dog in this fight, I don’t know this guy. He is going to prison for running a Medical MJ facility in California.
    Just wow.

    FYI I do not partake; myself. But who among us does not know people who do?

  2. Dan Wilvers says - Posted: January 8, 2013

    Is this isolated to Mr. DiMatteo? Or are the feds pursuing all Medical Marijuana owners in CA?

    If not, any reason as to why Mr DiMatteo was singled out?

    If as Mr. Thompson asserts above that he’s being indicted for running a Medical marijuana facility, why only him?

    Thanks Kae.

  3. Admin says - Posted: January 8, 2013

    There is only one pot club in town now.
    Trafficking has to do with dealing in drugs that have nothing to with distributing marijuana as medicine.

    Kathryn Reed, LTN publisher

  4. john says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    Just the tip of the iceburg…
    So much for not guilty part huh. Maybe some of you will retract your statements regarding law enforcement and how they handled Gino as a criminal. Cant wait for everyone to see the WHOLE picture….

  5. dave says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    I believe trafficking indicates selling significantly beyond medicinal uses. For instance, a significant problem facing medicinal use permitting is that a fair number of folks buy much more than needed and ship it out of state via USPS to their buddies. Hardly what medicinal laws are intended for……

  6. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    I vividly remember in 2010 when Steve Kubby was running for City Council utilizing the medical marijuana platform and the then three medical marijuana dispensaries initiated their businesses in SLT (City of Angels 2, Patient to Patient and Tahoe Wellness Collective). They got a foothold in this community and the then sitting City Council in the latter part of 2010 implemented a moratorium to stop at three and leave the matter of medical marijuana dispensaries to the next City Council. The operators of those collectives spent many months coming before both those City Council’s feigning their altruistic service and help to all the ill individuals in this community while simultaneously recruiting their “patients” to spend countless hours in front of those City Councils demanding that their “medical” needs be met. The medical marijuana collective operators had the chance to do what they claimed, which was help ill individuals, but obviously that was not their true intention. Two of the three are now gone because they did not comply with the City’s Ordinance, which they participated in writing, and the continued existence of the third is beginning to look shaky. These dispensary operators were provided the opportunity for precedent setting business operation with the chance to actually help the ill individuals that they exploited but it is now abundantly clear that at least two of the three chose not to do that and were operating for other purposes.

    I would venture to guess that many of those “ill patients” who spent countless hours in front of the SLT City Councils have now gone north to the state of Washington, and most likely Matt Triglia of Patient to Patient is up there too.

  7. Ted Long says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    Make no mistake about it this is a selective prosecution to save face for the El Dorado County DA Vern Pierson. He ran all over ever ones civil rights in arresting Gino then ruined Angela Swanson’s life and then walked away. He never had a case and continues to refuse to answer any questions. He knows that people will forget in time. Gino is charged and it appears that he will do time for running a business legal in Calif. And get this, he is charged some three months after he closed it, while thousands of similar stores continue to operate. I only wish there would be a trial and the DA and others could be questioned, under oath, about there real motives in this whole circus.
    Let us not forge Gino has a family, a business and about 20 employees that depend on him. We continue to fill our prisons with people charged with these silly victims less crimes while we allow the gun lobby to support massacres at our public schools, something is wrong with this picture.

  8. Dogula says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    Ted, you’ve gone over the edge this time. Whether or not drugs should be legal is one thing. The prosecution of this man for numerous shady deals is quite another. I’m looking forward to the IRS getting into this once the prosecutors are done.
    But this sentence, “we allow the gun lobby to support massacres at our public schools”, was out of line and unnecessary. It was off topic, fraudulent, and undermined whatever shreds of credibility you might have had left.

  9. Tahoe Mom says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    Why did he plead guilty to any charge if he is completely innocent? It seems to me that a 5 year sentence was the easy way out of getting convicted for all of his wrongdoings that he was charged with. If he was innocent, he should have felt secure enough to go to trial and be found innocent!

  10. john says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    Ted Long, why are you still talking? Gino pleads guilty because he is. If you wanna talk about selective prosecution, lets talk about the numerous legal prop. 215 growers that Gino selected and were ultimately prosecuted. Gino has done alot more dirt than he is answering for. Typical cowards lifestyle. Ongoing investigation means more to come…

  11. FULL TIME says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    So Gino gets to go to Camp Cup Cake

  12. dj short flo says - Posted: January 9, 2013

    Waste of time, its going to be legal once all the above brainwashed die off. He got served some street Karma for working with the cops.

    There is no shortages in town a result of this, in fact a ton of unlicensed untaxed delivery service have popped up to replace. Criminals win twice, nice work team.

  13. Aaron says - Posted: January 10, 2013

    Gino is a criminal. Period.

    Gino plead guilty because that’s the best plea when the Feds have overwhelming evidence that can’t be disputed.

    For inquiring minds, this has nothing to do with a guy running a pot shop, and everything to do with a guy who had been engaging in some less than ethical/legal conduct.

    Mr. Long, I’m sure has no idea about all the activities his client was involved in because criminals rarely disclose that information to anyone. Including their attorney.

    Innocent people don’t plead guilty.

  14. Aaron says - Posted: January 10, 2013

    Mr. Long, please ask Gino where “Dave” is.

  15. Aaron says - Posted: January 10, 2013

    Sorry, had to chime in one last time on the subject.

    Consider this,

    Law enforcement in this town has always been..well…less than ethical. (I’m being diplomatic) I certainly mean no disrespect to the individuals in law enforcement that are honest and have good intentions, but overall, our town is corrupt. It’s a fact of life here.

    Along comes a shady person who’s doing some bad things, and when caught, suddenly their best defense is that he was ‘set up’. It’s so easy for people to believe given the reality of our troubled law enforcement. Sad but true.

    This just doesn’t apply to drug dealers but sex offenders too. Gino’s defense is much like one that a known sex offender used after he was caught at the skating rink. The support for this sex offender was very disturbing. On the surface, it seemed as though he was just a guy who made a mistake and was being picked on by local authorities and the Feds. In reality, he was acting as a predator. Only those who were involved knew the truth, while supporters were ignorant to the facts because they were not personally involved. I mean no disrespect to Kae or the other medias, but the truth is, it was a story that was often misreported. Facts should come from court records, not personal friends. When attorneys speak, it’s just rambling from a paid spokeperson. Take it with the smallest grain of salt. Let’s face it, attorneys are getting paid to paint their client in the best possible light. Right Mr. Long?

    Be it a sex offender or a drug dealer, criminals are manipulators and rarely admit to what they are involved in. Because our law enforcement has done such a fine job of creating huge distrust in the community, guys like this gain so much unwarrented support.

  16. lfrubio says - Posted: January 10, 2013

    funny how one of the individuals who helped set the marijuana laws in our south lake is now in jail for drug trafficking, well done city council, killed two birds with one stone, and on top of it all the feds are going to foot the bill.

    Gino you got exactly what you deserved.

  17. nature bats last says - Posted: January 11, 2013

    Im glad the scumbag is out of our town and that the dispensary is closed. It was only a few blocks from a elementary school. I work at this school and I could smell the “skunk” all the time. Good riddance to bad rubbish!!!