The owner of the East Coast's largest manufacturer of maraschino cherries fatally shot himself today after authorities found evidence of a massive drug operation inside his office and processing plant. The New York Daily News reports that Arthur Mondella, a father and longtime owner of Brooklyn-based Dell's Maraschino Cherries, ended his life after hours of cooperating with authorities who were sniffing around for a drug connection.
Dell's Maraschino Cherries, which was established in 1948, produces cocktail cherries for bars and restaurants across the country, including big name brands like TGI Fridays, Red Lobster, Buffalo Wild Wings, Casears Entertainment, Steak 'n Shake, Chick-fil-A, and Checkers. Company operations have been temporarily halted until further notice. The investigation is ongoing.
Earlier today, police uncovered "three bags containing about 80 pounds of pot" at the facility. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and more than a few unidentifiable vehicles were also found on the property. Back in November, Mondella told the NYDN that his business was suffering: "We felt we had to do something to kick-start sales."
But authorities didn't suspect any major foul play until they noticed that one of the walls in Mondella's office was a false wall or possible secret door to a private room. It is not yet known what was behind the wall, but Mondella ended his life shortly after authorities discovered the wall. An official told the NYDN, "I don't think you kill yourself over a bag of weed. There has to be more to it."
The company has not released a statement. It is unclear if Dell's Maraschino Cherries, which had recently undergone an extensive renovation and rebranding, will continue business as usual or if bartenders and sundae makers across the country will be ordering a different brand of cocktail cherries in the foreseeable future.