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No bribery charges for SLT councilmember

By From page A1 | January 27, 2014

A South Lake Tahoe City council member will not have bribery charges filed against her after an extensive review of information.

A press release from the El Dorado County District Attorney, Vern Pierson, noted that his office would not be filing bribery charges against Angela Swanson. The allegations of bribery had come from the case of Gennaro “Gino” DiMatteo, who the DA describes as “a career criminal currently serving time in federal prison, who bragged openly of connections to organized crime.”

The joint investigation with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office showed that in June and July 2012, two separate votes were made concerning DiMatteo’s marijuana dispensary, City of Angels 2.

Shortly after the first vote took place, it was discovered that DiMatteo gave a “bag of cash” to a charity of Swanson’s choice. The transaction was set up and attended by Swanson. There was no receipt of the transaction, nor was the cash counted. The investigation revealed that DiMatteo “clearly believed” that Swanson’s vote hinged on the donation, a quid pro quo situation.

The investigation encompassed multiple interviews, search warrants on multiple locations and a review of many documents. It was also revealed that DiMatteo should never have been able to open a dispensary — city ordinance prohibits convicted felons from running such facilities, yet DiMatteo was “inexplicably” allowed to.

“Ultimately, our investigation has concluded and found that while it is clear Mr. DiMatteo believed he was attempting to bribe Councilmember Swanson, it is equally clear that the Councilmember already intended to vote favorably for Mr. DiMatteo and his dispensary,” Pierson wrote. He added that the “potential usefulness” of DiMatteo’s statements is “severely hampered by the fact that (he) is currently in federal prison and has extreme credibility issues.”

The conclusion was that “Councilmember Swanson’s actions do not rise to the level sufficient to file criminal charges as she clearly harbored no criminal intent. Accordingly, this case is now closed.” Pierson noted that Swanson cooperated with the investigation.

DiMatteo accepted a plea deal in federal court last April to five years in federal prison — out of a possible 30 — and the forfeiture of $40,000. DiMatteo specifically admitted that on Aug. 31, 2012, he possessed marijuana that had been seized from his South Lake Tahoe home and had an intent to distribute it. He stated before the court that he personally was not a marijuana user.

Cole Mayer

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