Donation part of bribery investigation, nonprofit confirms
Ryan Summerlin September 10, 2012
The Lake Tahoe Educational Foundation confirmed Monday that prosecutors have investigated a donation to the nonprofit in connection with the arrest of former medical marijuana dispensary operator Gino DiMatteo.
DiMatteo was arrested Aug. 31 and faces felony charges of bribery, possession of marijuana for sale, possession of a controlled substance and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.
South Lake Tahoe City Councilwoman and foundation board member Angela Swanson has confirmed speaking with investigators in relation to the bribery charge, but has denied wrongdoing. She has not been arrested or charged with a crime.
The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office has not returned requests for comment on the case.
DiMatteo made a $1,128 cash contribution to the foundation on June 13, according to a Monday statement from Lake Tahoe Educational Foundation spokeswoman Christina Proctor. At the time of the donation, DiMatteo was asking the City Council to approve a proposed relocation of his City of Angels 2 Collective. Although the council initially showed support for the move, council members denied the relocation in July. The denial, as well as pressure from federal prosecutors on the collective’s landlord, led to the shuttering of the medical marijuana dispensary this summer.
On Monday, Proctor said that Swanson was present at the time of DiMatteo’s donation, but was not the one to accept it.
“At the time, DiMatteo stated his wish to make his donation anonymous. Although Angela Swanson was present, she did not accept the contribution,” according to the statement. “This was the only donation received from DiMatteo. A Foundation officer spoke to El Dorado County District Attorney investigators on the evening of Aug. 31 to clarify apparent misperceptions as to the recipient of the unanticipated donation. Supporting documentation confirmed the prompt deposit of the donation into the Foundation’s bank account.”
The 23-year-old foundation’s goal is to support public education in Lake Tahoe Unified School District. Except for minimal operating costs, all donations to the foundation go to grants, scholarships and programs that enhance elementary and high school students’ educational experience, according to Monday’s statement.
DiMatteo remains in custody in El Dorado County Jail in Placerville. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 1 p.m. today.