A 44-year-old man was convicted of murder-for-hire and conspiracy for soliciting hits from his mob-linked father and his brother in a case notable for its brutality and multiple murders in the Bronx, New York. attempts
Anthony Zottola was convicted in federal court Wednesday of killing 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola, who was shot while waiting for a cup of coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in October 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. .
Sylvester Zottola owned a residential real estate portfolio worth tens of millions of dollars, and prosecutors said Anthony Zottola planned to kill his father and brother to take control of the business.
The fatal shooting was the third attempt on Sylvester Zottola’s life as part of the scheme. In November 2017, he was threatened at gunpoint by a masked man, and in December 2017, three men invaded his home, held a gun to his head, stabbed him and cut his throat. However, he survived.
“For more than a year, the elderly victim, Sylvester Zottola, was stalked, beaten, and stabbed, without knowing who directed the attacks,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “It was his son, who was so determined to control the family’s lucrative real estate business that he hired a gang of hitmen to kill his father.”
Zottola’s attorney blamed the attacks on the Bloods gang and said they plan to appeal.
“We are very disappointed with the jury’s verdict,” said defense attorney Henry E. Mazure. “Anthony Zottola loved his father and always put family first. He never meant to harm anyone. A violent street gang preys on Anthony and his family and brings about their tragic demise. We will appeal this judgment so that Anthony does not become another victim of the Bloods. He is not guilty of these violent crimes.”
In addition, the defendant’s brother, Salvatore Zottola, was shot in the head, chest and hand in front of his house in July 2018, according to the authorities. He survived and testified at trial.
The shooter, Himen Ross, 36, was also found guilty at trial, and a third defendant, Alfred Lopez, was acquitted of all charges, the US Attorney’s Office said. Five other defendants also pleaded guilty in the case, the office said.
Lopez’s lawyer praised the jury’s decision. “Mr. Lopez is pleased with the verdict and wants to thank the jury for their consideration,” said attorney John Burke.
Anthony Zottola was arrested in June 2019 and charged with conspiring with the Bloods in the shootings, prosecutors said.
Upon his death, a tracking device was placed in Sylvester Zottola’s car, allowing him to follow Ross to the McDonalds before the shooting death. Ross then texted Bushawn Shelton — the co-conspirator he has pleaded guilty to — about the murder, and Shelton texted Anthony Zottola, “Can we party today or tomorrow?”
Zottola texted to assure him the money would arrive soon, according to prosecutors. “I have cases of water a day or more,” he wrote. A photo taken from Shelton’s phone shows a cardboard box of bottled water and more than $200,000 in bills, authorities said.