Investigators Came For Environmental Probe, Smelled Marijuana, Sources Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Investigators said the owner of a Brooklyn maraschino cherry warehouse shot and killed himself Tuesday, as he was being questioned on an environmental issue by investigators who later smelled marijuana.

As CBS2’s Weijia Jiang reported, it all started when investigators from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office came to the warehouse in at 157 Dikeman St. in Red Hook with an administrative search warrant. They were joined by investigators from the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, and city Department of Environmental Protection.

The investigators came to the warehouse Tuesday morning to find out whether Dell’s Maraschino Cherries was illegally dumping potentially hazardous materials and chemicals they used to process the cherries into the sewer system, sources told CBS2. Crews were seen looking underground as part of the investigation.

Sources said Dell’s Maraschino Cherries owner Arthur Mondella, 57, had been cooperating with the investigation. But investigators started smelling marijuana and somewhere in the building and they asked about it, sources said.

At that point, sources said Mondella asked to go to the bathroom, and walked off alone. He instead went into an office, where he shouted out to his sister — who was also present, “Take care of my kids,” sources said.

At that point, a single gunshot was heard, and Mondella was killed in a suicide, sources said.

Investigators found a substantial amount of marijuana on the premises, Jiang reported.

Neighbors at the warehouse said they couldn’t believe the saga, because they thought Dell’s Maraschino Cherries was just a normal family business.

“It’s said. It’s very sad,” said Joe Morrine, who owns neighboring Ferris Street business Recycled Brooklyn. “So I don’t know. My heart goes out to their family.”

Morrine said he never suspected that the warehouse might contain a possible drug operation as authorities alleged.

“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,” Morrine said. “Just a normal business operating; you know, lots of forklifts moving things in and out; nice people.”

The website for Dell’s says the company has been in business for more than 67 years. The website describes the company as being “founded on family values, traditions and a passion for cherries.”

Twelve hours after investigators first arrived at the scene, they were still investigating and occasionally seen carrying boxes to vans. It was not clear what was inside the boxes, 1010 WINS reported.

As of 11 p.m., the NYPD Crime Scene Unit remained at the scene processing evidence. No charges had been issued.

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