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 Complex racket leads to suicide, or Tel Aviv in style?

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PostSubject: Complex racket leads to suicide, or Tel Aviv in style?   Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:11 am

Hurricane Sandy money fueled cherry-marijuana business

By Larry Celona and Josh Saul
March 24, 2015 | 2:28am

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Arthur Mondella, owner of Dell's Maraschino Cherries, fatally shot himself inside his Brooklyn factory on Feb. 24.Photo: Buck Ennis/Crain's New York Business

FOLLOW THE STORY









  • Owners of Cherry King's factory to plead guilty to pot charges
  • Pot-growing 'Cherry King' who killed himself when busted leaves $8.5M to family
  • Hurricane Sandy money fueled cherry-marijuana business
  • Cherry king's suicide amid raid prompts internal investigation
  • Judge orders slain cherry tycoon's company to pay $100K bill
  • Cherry king's sister blames authorities for brother's suicide


SEE ALL 10 STORIES

City power subsidies and Hurricane Sandy rebuilding cash helped fuel a Brooklyn maraschino cherry plant that was a front for a hydroponic marijuana-growing operation, The Post has learned.
Dell’s Maraschino Cherries, in Red Hook, scored almost $2 million in the power subsidies and federal disaster aid — which the city may now reclaim, a Big Apple official said.
Dell’s won $900,000 in federal money after its plant was damaged by flooding during the massive 2012 storm, the official told The Post, adding that the company also saved about $800,000 on its utility bills since 2004 through a city subsidy program.
Last month, investigators found a concealed entranceleading to a 2,500-square-foot basement filled withhundreds of hydroponically grown marijuana plants. The process allows the pot plants to grow in water, with no soil, using powerful “grow lights.”
“We have advised Dell’s that the funds are subject to recapture and the city can commence legal proceedings, if necessary,” said a spokesman for the city’s Department of Small Business Services, which administered the federal Sandy money.
“In light of recent events, we are currently working with our federal partners to determine next steps regarding the company’s award.”
The city could claw back the cash if there was any criminal activity by the company or if any criminal charges are brought, a city official said.
Dell’s has $457,000 left of the federal Housing and Urban Development money, granted after the flooding ruined its inventory of cherries — and maybe marijuana.
Hundreds of thousands in cash and about 100 pounds of weed — worth at least $300,000 — were seized in the search-turned-drug raid last month.
Dell’s has also saved about $800,000 in energy costs since 2004 through a program that initially cut its electric and gas bills by 45 percent, a city official said.
“Depending on the findings of the ongoing investigation, the city will determine whether to withhold future funds and/or reclaim past savings,” an official said.
During the search of the plant, owner Arthur Mondella excused himself to go into his office bathroom and killed himself with a handgun he had strapped to his ankle.
The DA’s Office first got a tip in 2009 that there was a pot-growing operation at Dell’s, though a DA investigation that included a drug-sniffing dog failed to turn up evidence, a law enforcement source said.
“We have no reason to believe that these funds were acquired or used improperly,” said Mondella family attorney Michael Farkas.
A DA spokeswoman declined to comment.
An internal investigation by the DA’s Office found that its investigators should have disarmed Mondella before searching the plant.

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