A hearing Wednesday for Gennaro “Gino” DiMatteo led to an increase in bail but an order that the gym owner and marijuana dispensary manager could be bailed out.
The hearing began with El Dorado Superior Court Judge Douglas C. Phimister recapping the events of hearings concerning DiMatteo, who has been charged with bribery, possession of marijuana for sale, possession of a controlled substance and possession of ammunition. On Sept. 5, visiting Judge Robert Baysinger had ordered bail set at $50,000 “in line with probation’s recommendation,” Phimister said. However, Baysinger was unfamiliar with El Dorado County bail practices, and, Phimister said, Baysinger did not account for two charges against DiMatteo.
Phimister also went over the Monday hearing on motion regarding bail, where DiMatteo’s attorney, former South Lake Tahoe Council member Ted Long, gave testimony.
The judge declared that the bail should have been set at $67,500 for all counts, but this was not done. He noted that there had been a motion from the prosecution, deputy district attorney James Clinchard, to raise bail from $50,000 to either $1 million or $5 million.
Attorney Robert Woelfel, standing in for Long, said that DiMatteo should have been entitled to be bailed out of jail Tuesday, 24 hours after the motion was made Monday, for $50,000. He read from a transcript in which Baysinger told Long to post bail. Phimister, however, said that there had been no ruling on Monday’s motion and that it was agreed the hearing would be held Wednesday, as the judge was unfamiliar with the case.
Clinchard said the part of the transcript that Woelfel read was out of context, and that Baysinger was replying to a hypothetical question. He also noted Presiding Judge Suzanne N. Kingsbury had ruled on the motion and deputy district attorney Hans Uthe had filed a reply to the motion within 24 hours. Kingsbury had ordered a hearing on the motion take place on Sept. 12.
When asked if there had been new evidence to support a raising of bail, Clinchard said that new evidence had been seized and search warrants executed. “This is a case that has a lot of evidence from many various investigators,” he said, much of which was not in the original declaration but has now been included.
Woelfel argued that the new evidence was not sufficient or new at all. A detective had been monitoring DiMatteo’s call from jail and text messages between DiMatteo and the South Lake Tahoe City Council had “been given (to the court) well in advance.” He noted that $75,000 from four of DiMatteo’s six bank accounts had been seized, with the rest of the money frozen, so DiMatteo could not “grab the money and run.”
Letters offering immunity to DiMatteo if he gave information on bribing Angela Swanson, city councilwoman, “betrayed” the DA’s true intention, Woelfel said. When he didn’t, he was arrested. In return, DiMatteo “sued the city and refused to set up Swanson.”
The attorney then addressed anonymous claims that DiMatteo had taken part in violence while in New York City, filed by the prosecution.
“This is silly,” Woelfel said. “There’s not even a name in here to lend credibility.” Regarding DiMatteo supposedly posting bail for someone named “Santos,” Woelfel said DiMatteo was not even in the area at the time. Kirk Sharpe, who Woelfel said provided that information, is also facing charges from the DA’s office, he said.
“It’s time to let (DiMatteo) exercise his constitutional right to bail,” Woelfel concluded.
Phimister then set the bail to $100,000. If he should post bail, Phimister ordered DiMatteo to surrender his passport, as DiMatteo had tickets to go to Italy for his yearly trip to his sister’s grave.
Long had previously testified that he had already committed to bailing DiMatteo out for $50,000 bail, but Clinchard questioned where the other $50,000 would now come from. Phimister noted that a property bond could be placed on DiMatteo, who holds property worth $900,000.
A quick testimony was then given by the manager of Push Fitness, DiMatteo’s gym, confirming the gym made about $40,000 per month plus an additional $30,000 for paid-in-full memberships.
Phimister said that the testimony “feels sufficient” and that the money gained from the gym was “not related to criminal activity.” After being questioned by Woelfel, Phimister ordered that DiMatteo could be bailed out for the aforementioned $100,000.
The case, the judge also noted, would not be moved to South Lake Tahoe, and had been assigned to Phimister’s court. “The presiding judge said to have the hearings here,” he said.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 3 at 8:30, with a following hearing on Oct. 10.