Owners of Brooklyn cherry factory/pot farm plead guilty to several crimes
The new owners of Dell's Maraschino Cherries, until earlier this year a place merely known for being one of America's largest cocktail-cherry companies, have agreed to plead guilty both to possessing marijuana and to dumping toxic wastewater into the New York sewer system, prosecutors said yesterday. The company's problems started last February when former owner Arthur Mondella, sometimes called the "Cherry King," shot himself with the .357 Magnum he kept strapped to his ankle as police waited to raid his secret underground pot farm.
Authorities had suspected him of running his side business for more than five years, but Mondella's fate was sealed when State Department of Environmental Conservation officials smelled weed inside the factory during a completely unrelated investigation. The illegal-dumping charge came from this search.
Dell's has agreed to routine factory inspections, to make sure the grow farm doesn't make a reappearance. It will also fork over $1.2 million as a settlement, an amount that includes the $130,000 in cash investigators found on Mondella at the time and the sale of one of his vintage cars, a Rolls-Royce.