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A federal jury in Brooklyn found a New York man was responsible for the ambush and assassination of his elderly father.
Anthony Zottola, 44, and his associate, Himen Ross, 36, were found guilty Wednesday murder-for-hire conspiracy and murder-for-hire for the 2018 shooting death of Zottola’s father, Sylvester Zottola, 71, according to the Department of Justice. Feds maintained Zottola tried several times to have his father killed before he was gunned down at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx, prosecutors arguing this was a way for Zottola to gain control of his father’s multi-million dollar real estate empire.
Feds said Zottola was also the person behind the attempted murder of his brother, Salvatore Zottola, who survived a near-fatal shooting in 2018.
A third defendant, Alfred Lopez, was acquitted on all counts.
Inside the federal courtroom, the color washed from Zottola’s face as the verdict was read, according to the New York Post. His wife, Heide Zottola, sobbed uncontrollably but was comforted by her brother-in-law, Salvatore, whose brother now faces a mandatory life sentence in federal prison.
Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Zottola spending the rest of his life in prison was what he deserved “for sentencing his father to a violent death.
“Over the course of more than a year, the elderly victim, Sylvester Zottola, was stalked, beaten and stabbed, never knowing who orchestrated the attacks,” Peace stated. “It was his own son, who was so determined to control the family’s lucrative real estate business that he hired a gang of hit men to murder his father.”
Feds said Zottola had his eye on Sylvester’s real estate portfolio, which, according to the New York Post, was valued at $45 million. Brothers Anthony and Salvatore Zottola were tasked with collecting tenants’ rent and maintaining Sylvester’s rental properties, both men being co-owners of A&S Maintenance.
Prosecutors said Anthony Zottola then allegedly sought the help of Bloods gang member Bushawn Shelton to help Zottola have his father and brother removed from the picture. In turn, Shelton enlisted the assistance of other criminals to engage “in a year-long conspiracy to carry out a series of violent attacks” against the victims, the Justice Department said in the release.
Others who helped had previously pleaded guilty, including Herman Blanco, 37, a.k.a. “Taliban” or “L”; Arthur Codner, 34, a.k.a.“Feddi,” “Feddi Bossgod,” or “Scary”; Jason Cummings, 34, a.k.a.“The Hat” or “Stacks”; and Julian Snipe, a.k.a.“Biz” or “Bizzy.”
On Nov. 26, 2017, a masked individual pulled a gun and “menaced” Sylvester Zottola, according to feds. About one month later, three men broke into Sylvester’s residence before beating him in the head with a gun, stabbing him and slashing the elderly man’s throat.
Sylvester survived the horrific attack, but the violence didn’t cease.
On July 11, 2018, someone shot Salvatore Zottola in front of his Locust Point area home in the Bronx, as shown in a surveillance video released by the NYPD. According to the feds, Salvatore Zottola survived after sustaining wounds to his head, hand and chest.
Would-be hitman Ron Cabey testified at Anthony Zottola’s trial that there were no less than six botched assassination attempts against Sylvester and Salvatore in 2018, according to the New York Post.
On Oct. 4, 2018 — the day of Sylvester Zottola’s murder — a plot was devised to stick a GPS tracking device onto the victim’s car, helping co-defendant Himen Ross track him to the Webster Avenue McDonald’s. According to the New York Post, Himen Ross and a third defendant, Alfred Lopez, were hired by Shelton to kill Sylvester at the behest of Anthony Zottola.
Lopez was the getaway driver but would be acquitted of all charges.
The men boxed Sylvester in at the drive-thru just after the victim ordered a coffee, according to the feds. Ross then shot him “multiple times.”
Federal investigators say Shelton texted Anthony Zottola as soon as the job was finished, saying, “Can we party today or tomorrow?”
Photos found on Shelton’s phone showed $200,000 in banded currency, believed to be payment for Sylvester’s assassination.
Shelton pleaded guilty in August to murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire conspiracy charges and is currently awaiting sentencing.
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll called Anthony Zottola’s scheme a “savage plot.”
“Proven by evidence and testimony during trial, Zottola had not one, not two, but multiple chances to rethink his deadly intent to murder his own father,” Driscoll stated. “Now, instead of living off his father’s millions, his only payday will be federal prison.”
During the trial’s closing arguments, Zottola’s defense attorney, Henry Mazurek, attempted to pin the murder on Albanian mobsters who allegedly wanted to get in on an illegal gambling operation allegedly overseen by Sylvester, per the Post.
Salvatore Zottola would be a key witness in his brother’s murder-for-hire trial.
“I was looking at both my brothers during the verdict,” said Debbie Zottola. “What I felt was heartache.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said the verdicts underscored “the unwavering commitment” of the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District and the FBI’s New York Field Office.
Anthony Zottola will be formally sentenced on Feb. 2.
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