By Adam Jensen
A federal grand jury indicted former South Lake Tahoe medical marijuana dispensary owner Gino DiMatteo on three counts Wednesday.
The indictment charges DiMatteo with conspiracy to manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants, possession with intent to distribute marijuana and manufacturing at least 100 marijuana plants.
The 43-year-old faces a potential sentence of 20 years to life in prison if convicted on the conspiracy charge, a maximum sentence of 30 years if convicted on the distribution charge and a sentence of 10 years to life if convicted on the manufacturing charge, according to the indictment. He may also be forced to forfeit property obtained through the distribution of marijuana if convicted.
The filing alleges DiMatteo committed the crimes after being convicted of felony conspiracy to distribute marijuana in New York in January 2002. A record of the conviction could not be found in online federal court records Wednesday.
DiMatteo’s attorney, Robert Woelfel, did not return a request for comment late Wednesday afternoon.
A September criminal complaint filed by El Dorado deputy district attorney James Clinchard shows DiMatteo was also convicted of felony possession of a handgun in New Jersey in August 1999. The El Dorado County charges were dropped after DiMatteo was arrested on suspicion of the federal crimes.
Either the 1999 or 2002 conviction could have prevented DiMatteo from receiving a permit to operate City of Angels 2 Collective because of provisions in the city’s dispensary rules that allow the city manager to revoke a dispensary permit if an applicant fails to comply with the city’s reporting requirements, or if any dispensary employee is convicted of a felony related to operating a dispensary.
DiMatteo listed no criminal background on his Phase 1 permit application to the city.
The city also failed to complete a required background check of DiMatteo prior to issuing him a permit to operate the medical marijuana collective, which closed this summer.
DiMatteo gave police an inaccurate Originating Agency Identification Number, or ORI, during the background check required for the first phase of the city’s medical marijuana dispensary permit process, said Police Chief Brian Uhler. The ORI Number DiMatteo gave police was unassigned and the results of the background check were never returned, Uhler said.
It was an oversight that DiMatteo’s application was then allowed to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the city’s dispensary permit process without the results, Uhler said, noting several city departments were involved in processing of the dispensary applications. Former City Manager Tony O’Rourke had final say on approving the Phase 1 applications.
The Police Department found out about the convictions after reviewing information from the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office and double-checking the information DiMatteo gave to police, Uhler said.
Tahoe Wellness Collective, the only remaining medical marijuana dispensary in the city, has had its permit application reviewed and is in compliance with the city’s dispensary rules, Uhler said.
Details of a Tuesday bail review hearing for DiMatteo are unknown. He remained in custody at Sacramento County Jail Wednesday evening, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office Website.