Pubdate: Thu, 06 Sep 2012
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Swift Communications
Author: Adam Jensen


Former South Shore medical marijuana dispensary owner Gino DiMatteo
has pleaded not guilty to felony charges including bribing a City
Council member and possession of a controlled substance.

Gennaro "Gino" DiMatteo and his wife, Irene DiMatteo, were arrested
Aug. 31. Details of the arrests have not been made public by the El
Dorado County District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors have charged Gino DiMatteo, who previously operated the
City of Angels 2 Collective, with bribery, possession of marijuana for
sale, possession of Methelone and illegal possession of ammunition.

DiMatteo, who is also referred to as Sergio Franco Ottomanelli in a
criminal complaint filed Tuesday, remained in custody in El Dorado
County Jail in Placerville Thursday afternoon.

El Dorado County public defender David Cramer said he entered not
guilty pleas to the charges against DiMatteo in Placerville on
Tuesday. He said he did not expect to represent DiMatteo as the case
moves forward and has not seen any details of the arrest, including a
police report.

The prosecutor in the case, El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney
James Clinchard did not return a request for comment Thursday.

Tuesday's criminal complaint alleges that DiMatteo unlawfully offered
and gave a bribe to a City Council member "with intent to corruptly
influence said member in his/her action on a matter and subject
pending before and which was afterward to be considered by said body
of which he/she was a member."

City Councilwoman Angela Swanson acknowledged she was involved in the
District Attorney's Office investigation in a Monday statement, but
has declined to discuss details. She said she has done nothing to
intentionally betray the public trust in the statement. Swanson has
not been charged with a crime.

According to the criminal complaint, the alleged bribery happened
between June 5 and June 13, when the council was considering allowing
City of Angels to move to around the corner. The council denied the
move the following month. Swanson voiced support for allowing the
dispensary to relocate during meetings where the proposal was discussed.

Count 3 of Tuesday's criminal complaint charges DiMatteo with
possession of Methelone. Few references to Methelone could be found
online. South Lake Tahoe El Dorado Narcotics Enforcement Team
Commander Jeff Catchings said he thought the drug was a prescription
medication, but wasn't certain.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration added the drug Methylone to
the list of Schedule I substances in October, placing it in the same
category as LSD and heroin. The drug has a similar chemical structure
to Ecstasy and been used as an alternative to substances such as
cocaine and amphetamines. The drug first appeared in the U.S. in 2009
and there has been rapid and significant abuse of the substance, which
is sometimes marketed as "bath salts," according to the DEA.

It is unclear if Methelone and Methylone are the same

The fourth count of the criminal complaint charges DiMatteo with being
a felon in possession of ammunition, stemming from a 1999 conviction
in Bergen County, New Jersey for felony possession of a handgun.

Attorney and former City Councilman Ted Long, who said he is
representing Irene DiMatteo, was critical of the allegations against
the couple, saying the District Attorney's Office has been
tight-lipped about the case.

"Nobody has seen any evidence," Long said.

"I think it's a get-even for the pot shop years when they couldn't do
anything," Long added.

Irene DiMattteo is no longer in police custody and has not been
charged in connection with the arrest. Long said he suspected her
arrest was an effort to get Gino DiMatteo to talk to prosecutors out
of concern for his wife.

A bail review hearing for DiMatteo is scheduled for Friday in
Placerville, with the next hearing on the matter scheduled for Monday.
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