NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police remain at the scene of a Brooklyn maraschino cherry warehouse where the owner shot and killed himself after an inspection led to a stunning discovery.

Investigators came to Dell’s Maraschino Cherries located at 157 Dikeman St. in Red Hook on Tuesday morning to check if the company was illegally dumping potentially hazardous materials into the sewer system.

For nearly five hours, owner Arthur Mondella, 57, cooperated with the investigation. But the investigation took a stunning turn when investigators reportedly smelled marijuana somewhere in the building and questioned Mondella about it, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.

At that point, Mondella asked to use the bathroom, walked off and told his sister to “Take care of my kids” before shooting himself, sources told CBS2.

After getting warrants, investigators found what appears to be a big-time marijuana growing operation at the warehouse, Schuck reported.

Officers found about 90 pounds of marijuana behind a false wall, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash stashed in suitcases, sources told CBS2. Police also found three luxury vehicles, including a Bentley and a Rolls Royce, under tarps on the property, sources said.

Police suspect Mondella was growing the drugs on the premises and distributing them, sources said.

The business remained closed Wednesday as friends, neighboring business owners  and delivery truck drivers expressed shock.

“I was shocked, I was just shocked. It’s a shame,” Mondella’s friend, Pat, told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “Maybe he was embarrassed, that’s the only thing I can think of…Everybody loved him in the neighborhood. He was a good guy.”

“You never know what goes on behind closed doors, right? He’s got a good business going and a little extra on the side,” one driver, named Frank, said. “A lot of times we come here, they’re always making TV shows, I guess today it’s reality TV.”

“It doesn’t make sense that it would be a front, they’re a legitimate business that have been around for a long time,” one man said.

CBS2’s Valerie Castro was told investigators will continue to execute several search warrants and remove more evidence from the warehouse throughout the rest of the day.

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.”

No charges had been issued.


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