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South Lake Tahoe Dispensary Owner Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison and Agrees to Forfeit Drug Proceeds

APRIL 10 (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) —Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano and United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Gennaro DiMatteo, 43, of South Lake Tahoe, California, was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison today by United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller.  DiMatteo had previously entered a guilty plea to a felony for marijuana trafficking on January 9, 2013.  As part of his plea agreement, DiMatteo agreed to forfeit more than $40,000 to the United States. 

According to facts admitted by Mr. DiMatteo during his guilty plea before Judge Mueller, during a search of Mr. DiMatteo’s South Lake Tahoe residence, agents discovered a hidden door that led to several sub-surface rooms under the structure.  The rooms had been set up with equipment that is standard for indoor marijuana cultivation gardens.  Detectives discovered approximately five pounds of processed marijuana in one of the sub-surface rooms.  In the downstairs/basement area, detectives found a scale located on a silver table near a food saver machine.  These items are consistent with Mr. DiMatteo heat sealing marijuana after weighing out distribution quantities and shipping them out of state.  The heat sealing of the marijuana can have the effect of concealing and disguising the odor from marijuana.  In total, detectives seized approximately 5 pounds of processed marijuana and 15 pounds of marijuana “shake,” that is, residual marijuana used for cooking marijuana edibles.  During questioning, Mr. DiMatteo admitted that he is not a user of marijuana.  Inside a freezer within Mr. DiMatteo’s detached garage, detectives located marijuana-laced ice cream, granola bars, and pizzas.  Within a desk inside the kitchen area, as well as inside a desk in the living room area of Mr. DiMatteo’s residence, detectives found pay/owe sheets.  In particular, Mr. DiMatteo had notes setting the price of the marijuana sold at a South Lake Tahoe marijuana dispensary known as “City of Angels II.”  On a separate set of documents, Mr. DiMatteo listed the various amounts paid.  Mr. DiMatteo lists himself receiving $7,000 bi-weekly.  As part of his Plea Agreement, Mr. DiMatteo specifically admitted that he possessed the marijuana seized from his residence on August 31, 2012, with an intent to distribute it to others.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, and the Sacramento District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason Hitt and Todd Pickles prosecuted the case.

When prosecuted in federal court, drug traffickers typically receive much harsher sentences.  In addition to the longer sentences imposed, unlike state court prisoners who are released early on parole, there is no early release on parole in the federal system.


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