Cherry Factory Owner Commits Suicide Before Authorities Find Hidden Marijuana Operation
Eighty pounds of marijuana was discovered in the basement of the cherry factory.
Dell's Maraschino Cherries owner Arthur Mondella reportedly committed suicide in his family's third-generation Brooklyn plant on Tuesday prior to New York authorities discovering his undercover weed operation.
The 57-year-old father of three (two adult daughters from a first marriage and a toddler from his second) screamed "Take care of my kids!” to his sister after locking himself in a bathroom of the factory, followed by a gunshot to the head the New York Daily News reported.
Investigators initially went to the plant to catch his company polluting nearby waters with cherry waste and syrup, sources said, but smelled a faint hint of weed when they were on the premises. The Daily News reported that upon questioning Mondella for five hours, authorities came across flimsy shelving attached to the wall by magnets.
Mondella excused himself from the conversation and walked into his office's attached bathroom after authorities questioned him about the shelving. A source told the Daily News that the factory owner was licensed to carry a gun that he had holstered to his ankle.
After Mondella shot himself and authorities were granted a search warrant on the secret entrance to the basement, investigators discovered a pot-growing operation with multiple high-end vehicles, including a Porsche, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a Rolls-Royce. Three bags of marijuana with a combined weight of 80 pounds along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash was also found.
The cherry company's clients included Red Lobster, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chick-fil-A and Caesars Entertainment.
Mondella was previously arrested in 2011 for assaulting his second wife, but the charges were dropped.
"You don't kill yourself over weed," a source told the paper. "There has to be more than that."