Last year’s police raid of Dell’s Maraschino Cherries was easily one of 2015’s craziest food stories: After a five-year investigation, authorities suspected the giant cocktail-cherry supplier’s owner — Arthur Mondella, known as Brooklyn’s “Cherry King” — was running a pot farm inside the factory. When they showed up to search under the guise of wastewater discharge, they found a hidden cave full of marijuana, and Mondella promptly fled to the bathroom, where he used a .357 Magnum to end his life.
It was surely deeply unsettling for his family, and now his daughters have placed blame for Mondella’s suicide on the NYPD. In a whopping $50 million lawsuit, they accuse the police of conducting a botched and illegal raid. In the suit, they say the NYPD came packing enough firepower “that it would appear to the casual observer that they were there to take out Pablo Escobar, El Chapo and Osama Bin Laden — ALL AT ONCE.” Instead of trying to safely secure Mondella, their suit alleges authorities were eager “to play ‘Cowboys and Indians,’” and the Indian was “needlessly killed” after they “bum-rushed the place.” Among their complaints is how trained police could let Mondella sneak away to the bathroom mid-raid, or how he had a gun strapped to his ankle the whole time, yet no officers thought to frisk their suspect. “They should’ve known this guy had a concealed carry permit,” they note. “They didn’t do homework on that.” They also call the environmental-search guise “blatant fraud.”
Dell’s has already coughed up a $1.2 million settlement, an amount that included the sale of Mondella’s vintage Rolls-Royce. The Daily News quotes a “knowledgeable source” who claims the NYPD actually was not involved in the district attorney’s raid, but rather got a warrant to search the premises afterward. The daughters say the DA’s office can expect a lawsuit soon, too.