WASHINGTON, February 26, 2015 – Both the newspapers (for those who still read them) and the Internet are loaded with business and money double-takes this morning. Here’s just one:
A Brooklyn maraschino cherry manufactury’s top boss offed himself yesterday for adding an unusual crop to his mix of products for sale. The Greeks have been staging a run on their banks since their “popular” new Communist government was elected. And consumer prices were actually down in January, a negative rate that would seem to contradict everyone’s predictions that the Fed will run out of “patience” and raise interest rates sooner rather than later.
When you get a confusing news morning like this, it keeps traders, investors and institutions from committing more funds to the market because they’re all confused, just like the Prudent Man is.
Zeroing in on this morning’s newsy bafflegab, we first learned, via the New York Post, that the president and CEO of Brooklyn-based Dell’s Maraschino Cherries, Arthur Mondella, whacked himself at his factory Tuesday with his personal, legally-owned .357 Magnum.
That abrupt self-termination seemed odd on the surface of it, because Dell’s is a major manufacturer and vendor of these popular super-sweet cocktail and dessert fruits. Sources note the company books $20 million in annual revenues for its yearly output of one billion cherries, give or take a few. According to the Post, Dell’s cherries “are served at restaurants such as T.G.I. Friday’s, Chick-fil-A, Red Lobster and Olive Garden, among others.”
We also learned from the Post that Mondella and his factory have been under surveillance for months under the suspicion that Dell’s factory was also operating as a front for a huge in-door marijuana farm, including packaging and sales operations. How the raid and suicide eventually transpired reads like a made-for-TV movie script:
“Mondella had been trying to reinvigorate his cherry business at the 175 Dikeman St. site, which sells to big chain restaurants such as Red Lobster, Buffalo Wild Wings and TGI Friday….
“Authorities wanted to get a warrant to search the place after getting tipped off that it was a front for a marijuana business, but when they couldn’t, they decided to try to do an end run through the Department of Environmental Protection, sources said.”
Why the EPA? It seems that the company “had recently become infamous with locals for turning sugar-addicted neighborhood bees red after they sipped on the syrupy sweet confection.”
Voilà! A pretext for raiding the building, something like Eliot Ness using the IRS to bust Al Capone back in the day.
“Investigators from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and the DEP were technically searching the place for possible violations involving the dumping of waste when Mondella killed himself, sources said.”
They eventually discovered an elaborate ruse: a fake factory wall that concealed mass quantities of already-packaged marijuana as well as the alleged existence of a secretly-dug basement level housing a commercial growing operation. (The cops don’t tell you everything they know when a story like this first breaks.)
You have to hand it to the cops for going after Mondella via the impenetrable thicket of EPA regs that are increasingly serving to strangle businesses large and small nationwide. It proves that at least some creativity is still alive in this sullen, once-great nation. But this ruse is also illustrative of the oppressive environment we’ve been living with as businesses and individuals ever since The One was first elected to “fundamentally transform” this worthless country in 2008.
“After Mondella shot himself … authorities also recovered ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’ from the facility.
“‘Poor guy, in this day and age, you can do no jail time for marijuana,’ a law enforcement source said. ‘I don’t know why he would do that, unless there’s something worse down there.’”
We tend to agree with this sympathetic cop. But there’s likely more to this story than has already been reported. On the surface, at least, Mondella and his business may very well have been desperately seeking some way of actually making a profit once the political and bureaucratic predators in New York City, New York State and Washington (and perhaps organized crime?) took their cut.
This oppressive environment is typically far worse in Deep Blue states like New York, Illinois and California whose governments, oligarchs and out-of-control, unionized government employees think their fellow citizens are working for them rather than the other way around. How much longer can this go on
Perhaps Mondella was, in the end, simply another small time bad guy. But we suspect this story has a lot more to it than we’ve discovered thus far. However it settles out, though, it’s illustrative of the pervasive undercurrent of justifiable suspicion and fear that has had a continuous, negative impact on individuals and businesses since the (likely ongoing) Great Recession first surfaced and since our “fundamental transformation” began.
This kind of miasma makes businesses and individual investors fearful of commitment, a little like millennial dudes who live with their concubines but won’t marry them. And that’s what’s really killing this economy, in spite of all the happy talk you hear from clueless TV talking heads.