Something’s Fishy at Giovanni’s

By Claire Wilson 

February 26, 2024
Photo credit: The Tribune

On November 28th of last year, Giovanni DeGarimore, owner of Giovanni’s Fish Market and Galley, was found in possession of illegal firearms and was charged with five counts for possession of various weapons, including a concealed firearm in his vehicle, and one count of possession of matter depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct. 

DeGarimore’s girlfriend discovered child pornography on his phone during a trip to the Channel Islands in 2022. He claimed that a friend sent it to him as a joke, and she let it go. In July 2023, she discovered two more pornographic images of children on his computer, one of whom appeared to be about 8 years old. She took pictures of his computer screen and drove the evidence to the Atascadero police station. Officer Craig Martineau traced the images to an Albanian porn site, and a search of his internet history revealed dozens of searches for violently sexual content. DeGarimore’s criminal record already details charges of “willful cruelty to a child, terrorist threats, false imprisonment, drunk driving and three counts of battery”, according to Karen Velie of Cal Coast News. 

Giovanni DeGarimore stands in front of his new takeout station in 2020 (Photo credit: The Tribune)

Since June of 2021, four sexual harassment cases have been filed against Giovanni’s Fish Market, three of which were related to underage high school students. The first victim was a 16-year old dishwasher who was cornered and inappropriately touched by a male coworker. Another victim, who was only 14 years old, reported being harassed and touched by an employee and reported it to DeGarimore. She quit after he failed to take action against the employee. Velie writes, “owner Giovanni DeGarimore characterized it as a ‘he said, she said’ situation and implied that the other employee’s reputation was more important than plaintiff’s safety.” Chloe Jones of the SLO Tribue reports that “the teen had to seek counseling for sexual assault victims because she was so emotionally impacted by the alleged harassment and her supervisor’s refusal to believe her and intervene on her account.”  In 2022, employee Aaron Feirra made unwanted sexual advances to his (adult) coworker Adria Schneider. She reluctantly agreed to get a drink with him one night and was so uncomfortable that she called a family member to pick her up. After being rejected, he found sexual images of her online and sent them to coworkers. All of these cases ended in private settlements.

“In addition to the sexual harassment claim, the lawsuit alleges violations of the labor code including not paying overtime compensation and failures to provide meal and rest breaks,” writes Valie. Giovanni’s Fish Market clearly breeds a volatile work environment, both in the treatment of its workers and its failure to address these issues. 

On Saturday, Morro Bay locals gathered outside Giovanni’s Fish Market in protest. They handed out fliers informing the public about the situation and discouraging them from patronizing the store. On February 16, DeGarimore’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu said in a statement, “we are diligently preparing our defense to present in a court of law and are convinced Giovanni will be vindicated… Detachment and impartiality are the wellspring of a fair trial. To ensure it, please let’s not rush to judgment.” DeGarimore’s bail was set at $20,000 by Atascadero Police and he is scheduled to appear in court for a pre-preliminary trial on March 5th. Giovanni’s Fish Market declined a request for comment at this time.