Brooklyn-based Maraschino Cherry factory owner Arthur Mondella fatally shot himself Tuesday after authorities discovered a massive marijuana-growing operation on the premises. According to CBS News, authorities were investigating accusations that Dell’s Maraschino Cherries was illegally dumping hazardous waste, and Mondella had been cooperating.
During the inspection, investigators began to smell marijuana and found a door hidden behind shelves leading to a dug-out cave where the odor was originating. Sources say at that point, Mondella asked to use the restroom, walked off alone and shouted to his sister ‘Take care of my kids.” The 57-year-old proceeded to take his own life with a single gunshot.
Inside the cave, authorities reportedly uncovered 80 pounds of marijuana and a massive amount of cash. A follow-up search warrant led authorities to an underground facility that the New York Daily News called a “‘Breaking Bad’ -style drug den.” A Porsche, a Rolls-Royce and a Harley-Davidson were also found hidden in the underground growing facility.
The family-run business has been around for more than 67 years, and the company describes itself online as “founded on family values, traditions and a passion for cherries.” According to warehouse neighbors, no one suspected the factory of any illicit activity.
“It’s sad. It’s very sad,” Joe Morrine, who owns a neighboring business, told CBS News. “It doesn’t make sense that it would be a front; I mean, they’re a legitimate business. They’ve been around for a long time.”