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November 6, 2012
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Bribery not included in DiMatteo charges

Federal prosecutors have formally charged former South Lake Tahoe medical marijuana dispensary owner Gennaro "Gino" DiMatteo with two weed-related crimes.

In a criminal complaint unsealed Monday, DiMatteo is charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and manufacturing at least 100 marijuana plants. He faces between five and 40 years in prison for each charge.

The complaint does not include the charges of bribery or possession of a controlled substance alleged by the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office following DiMatteo's August arrest. The state charges were dropped Friday after DiMatteo was re-arrested on the federal allegations during a court hearing in Placerville.

In a statement announcing the arrest, El Dorado County prosecutors said the state charges were dropped due to the more severe penalties available under federal sentencing guidelines. The investigation into South Lake Tahoe officials' dealings with DiMatteo is ongoing, according to the statement.

DiMatteo made an initial appearance in federal court in Sacramento Monday, according to online documents. It is unknown if he has entered a plea in the federal case. His criminal defense attorney, Robert Woelfel, did not return a request for comment Tuesday. DiMatteo pleaded not guilty to each of the state charges.

DiMatteo remained in the main Sacramento County Jail on a federal hold late Tuesday afternoon, according to jail records.

The federal charges stem from an Aug. 31 search of DiMatteo's home on the 1200 block of Angora Lake Road, according to the complaint unsealed Monday.

"During the search, agents discovered a hidden door that lead to several sub-surface rooms under the structure," according to the complaint. "The rooms had been set up with equipment that is standard for indoor marijuana cultivation gardens. Although there was not an active marijuana grow at the time of the search, detectives discovered approximately five pounds of processed marijuana on a shelf located in one of the sub-surface rooms."

Detectives estimated dismantled indoor marijuana gardens at the home could have yielded between 22 and 25 pounds of marijuana four times a year and made about $320,000 annually.

Investigators have also linked DiMatteo to a marijuana grow on the 2000 block of Fifth Street. About 20 marijuana plants and 200 cuttings known as clones were found at the location, according to the complaint.

The search of DiMatteo's home also turned up a scale and a FoodSaver machine, items that are consistent with heat sealing marijuana and shipping it out of state, according to the complaint. Detectives also allegedly located marijuana-laced ice cream, granola bars and pizzas inside a detached garage at the residence. They did not find any evidence consistent with marijuana use by DiMatteo.

Detectives also believe DiMatteo is linked to a "loosely-organized criminal group known as the 'Juggalos,'" according to the complaint.

Juggalos are fans of the musical act Insane Clown Posse. The musicians have challenged the FBI's 2011 classification of their listeners as a gang, filing a lawsuit in September seeking documents explaining the designation.

--The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 6, 2012 07:52PM Published Nov 6, 2012 07:51PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.