Arthur Mondella, president and CEO of Dell's Maraschino Cherries, one of the largest maraschino cherry companies in the U.S., shot himself Tuesday as authorities raided his factory in Brooklyn, which was a drug front, the New York Post reported Wednesday.
Once the authorities opened a suspicious-looking shelving in the factory's storage room, the smell of marijuana wafted out and Mondella went to the restroom and shot himself, the Post reported. Investigators then found three large bags of marijuana behind a fake wall, the Post added.
"I don't know why he would do that, unless there's something worse down there," a law enforcement source told the newspaper. Investigators also found generators and cameras everywhere and the building was equipped with barbed wire and motion-detector lights, the source added. "All that points to guilt—you're not protecting your cherries," the source said. "He's probably growing."
Dell's Maraschino Cherries had been run by the Mondella family for generations, the Post said. The company has $20 million in revenues and produces more than a billion cherries every year, according to a Crain's New York Business report from January. These cherries are served at restaurants such as T.G.I. Friday's, Chick-fil-A, Red Lobster and Olive Garden, among others.