Tahoe drug importer receives life sentence
A Lake Tahoe man was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison for drug trafficking on Tuesday.
Michael Culletto, 35, was convicted by a jury May 30 after only two hours of deliberation.
Culletto has been in custody since his arrest on Oct. 4, 2018, after investigators determined he had ordered 600 grams of MDMA and 500 Ecstasy pills and had them delivered to the Stateline Post Office.
Culletto and another man were taken into custody on Sept. 19, 2018, after postal and drug agents were alerted that the packages were on their way.
Jurors concluded that while the driver of the vehicle picked up the drugs, it was at Culletto’s behest.
Culletto was arrested on a warrant for failure to appear on a warrant out of Tahoe Township Justice Court. That case was resolved and Culletto was released two days later only to be caught in a sting to learn who really owned the drugs.
Prosecutor Erik Levin argued on Monday that Culletto’s criminal history indicated he was in the business of selling drugs.
“He’s not an addict selling drugs to support his habit,” Levin said. “This is his business. He’s bringing a large amount of drugs into the country. He said he doesn’t use drugs himself. He’s chosen to live off other people’s vices.”
Under the law, Culletto was only eligible for two sentences, either the life term, or a definite term of 10-25 years.
Levin said he didn’t believe that Culletto would spend life in prison, but it would extend the amount of time he would be supervised, and perhaps prevent him from taking up drug sales again.
Defense attorney Kris Brown argued for the definite term, but District Judge Tom Gregory agreed with Levin.
Gregory also sentenced Culletto to a concurrent 12-36-month prison term for conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.