A tragic scenario played out last month inside a factory in Brooklyn operated by a 57-year-old man whose grandfather had founded it decades before. The owner of Dell's Maraschino Cherries took his own life during a raid that revealed the business had become a front for a large marijuana grow operation.
Located on Dikeman St., the company sold maraschino cherries to restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, TGI Friday and Red Lobster. Police received a tip that the cherry business was cover for the pot being grown there but couldn't get a search warrant. They then turned to the Department of Environmental Protection.
City workers trapped the sewers and discovered waste was being dumped at the site. That was enough to allow a premises search by the DEP and the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. Authorities moved shelves that appeared suspicious and gained access to a hidden room full of bags of marijuana. According to reports, "hundreds of thousands of dollars" were also seized at the factory.
Shortly before 1 p.m., the nervous owner asked to use the bathroom and shot himself with a .357 Magnum while inside.
One police source said, "Poor guy, in this day and age, you can do no jail time for marijuana." Others pointed out that because the investigators knew the owner had a license for a gun, he should have been ordered to surrender any weapons during the search.
As that case illustrates, even when police can't get a judge to sign a search warrant, they can find other means for authorities to gain access to New Yorkers' property and make seizures and arrests. No marijuana charge should result in a death. A seasoned criminal defense attorney can sometimes keep a client out of jail even if convicted.
Source: New York Post, "Cherry tycoon kills himself amid drug raid on factory" Josh Saul, Larry Celona and Jamie Schram, Feb. 24, 2015