Thursday, February 26, 2015

Owner of Marischino cherry company kills self after pot growing operation found.


NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Tuesday, February 24, 2015, 4:21 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 9:23 AM




  A cherry manufacturing king committed suicide in a Brooklyn factory after his business was exposed Tuesday as a “Breaking Bad”-style drug den, sources said.
“Take care of my kids!” Arthur Mondella, 57, screamed to his sister after locking himself in a bathroom at the Dell’s Maraschino Cherries company.
The sound of a gunshot then echoed through the factory, home to the family-owned business since its 1939 opening. Joanne Capece stood outside helplessly as her brother pulled the trigger.
Investigators were searching for documents and questioning Mondella for about five hours when they came upon a flimsy-looking shelving system. Sent to the Red Hook business about 8 a.m. to uncover alleged pollution in the waters near the cherry plant, investigators were hit by a faint smell of weed.
A detective assigned to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office noticed the shelves attached to the wall by magnets. Authorities started asking Mondella about the partition and he excused himself. He walked into the bathroom attached to his office.A source who knew Mondella told the Daily News that the cherry king had a license to carry a gun and often kept it holstered to his ankle.
After Mondella shot himself in the head, investigators were shocked to discover three bags holding about 80 pounds of pot and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash stashed in the factory, sources said.
Later, after executing a search warrant on the secret entrance, investigators uncovered “a huge marijuana-growing operation” underneath the warehouse, a source said.
In the space below the plant, they also found numerous high-end vehicles, including a Rolls-Royce, a Porsche and Harley-Davidson motorcycle. “Underground, it was really ‘Breaking Bad,’” said the astounded law enforcement source.
Sources indicated the cherry plant was equipped with an elaborate security system.
Friends of the dead businessman were stunned by both the suicide and the discovery of the supposed drug operation.
“I talked to him yesterday,” said Ethan Casucci of Thought for Food & Son, who helped Mondella rebrand the company last year. “That doesn’t seem right. He seemed fine.”
A reeling Brian Roberts, 48, owner of the neighboring Cornell Paper and Box Co., recalled Mondella as a friendly guy. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mondella offered to run a power line into Roberts’ business when he lost electricity.
“We were all here wondering what would lead him to take his life,” said Roberts. “This is shocking.”
The initial raid was conducted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the city Department of Environmental Protection and detective investigators from the Brooklyn DA’s office. The authorities who arrived at the Red Hook facility with four warrants weren’t looking for drugs, officials said.
They were instead trying to nail Mondella, a third-generation owner of the business, for dumping syrup and other cherry-related waste into the water near the warehouse, sources said.





  About 25 investigators descended on the Dikeman St. facility, home to a $5 million renovation just last year. Investigators fanned out across four buildings at the plant as the probe began.
One of the detectives spotted the shelves inside a gated area of the factory, and thought the wall “appeared to hide a secret room,” a source told The News. The investigators spied a ladder leading to a basement where the bags of weed were spotted, the source said.
The cherry factory — with big-name clients like Caesars Entertainment, Red Lobster, Buffalo Wild Wings and Chick-fil-A — was long targeted by the city Department of Environmental Protection.
There was enough sticky discharge to turn some local bees red, raising flags of the same color.
“It probably would have been a fine,” one source said of the spillage. “Nobody does 10 years in prison for dumping cherry syrup in the water.”
Mondella had a previous arrest in 2011 for assaulting his second wife in Brooklyn’s 60th Precinct. The charges were later dropped.
He was survived by two adult daughters from his first marriage, and a toddler from his second wife — who was separated from Mondella.
“He was a very good man,” his ex-wife told The News. “I can’t speak anymore.”






1 comment:

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