Son convicted of hiring Brooklyn hitman to kill father
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A greedy son looking to take over his father’s real estate business was convicted on Wednesday by a federal jury of a murder-for-hire-conspiracy that lead to the death of his father.
Anthony Zottola, a 44-year-old from Larchmont, was convicted following a six-week trial of having his father, 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola, whacked while he was sitting in a McDonald’s drive-through in the Bronx on October 4, 2018.
A co-conspirator, Himen Ross, a 36-year-old from the Bronx, was also convicted on Wednesday. Five other men, including Bushawn Shelton, a 38-year-old hitman from Brooklyn, had previously pleaded guilty in connection to the murder of Sylvester Zottola.
“Over the course of more than a year, the elderly victim, Sylvester Zottola, was stalked, beaten, and stabbed, never knowing who orchestrated the attacks. 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,” stated U.S. Attorney Breon Peace. “For sentencing his father to a violent death, Anthony Zottola and his co-defendant will spend the rest of their lives in prison where they belong as a result of today’s verdict.”
Sylvester Zottola had a real estate portfolio full of multi-family rental properties that were managed by a company, A&S Maintenance, that was owned by his sons Anthony and his brother Salvatore Zottola.
Anthony’s plan was to have both of his father and brother killed so he could take over the portfolio and the maintenance company, which were valued at tens of millions of dollars, according to prosecutors.
Zottola hired Shelton, also known as Shelz, to commit the murder. Shelz recruited others to help and over a year that group carried out a series of violent attacks against Sylvester and Salvatore.
The father was ultimately shot while waiting in line at a McDonald’s to buy coffee after his car was tracked by Shelton using a GPS device. However, the brother, Salvatore, managed to live through multiple violent attacks and eventually testified at his brother’s trial.
The father was attacked twice, on November 26, 2017 and then the next day, November 27. The first time he was attacked by a masked individual carrying a gun, the second time he was attacked by three people in his own home, who pistol-whipped him in the head, stabbed him multiple times, and sliced his throat. Somehow he survived both attacks.
A little over a half a year later, on July 11, 2018, Salvatore was shot in the head, chest and hand in front of his house.
It took four attempts for hitmen to finally kill Zottola’s father and they ultimately failed at killing the brother.
After the murder was finally committed, Shelton immediately sent text messages to Zottola asking, “Can we party today or tomorrow?” Prosecutors explained that he was asking for money for the murder. When Zottola texted back, “I have the cases of water in a day or so,” he was confirming that he would have the money for them soon. A photo recovered from Zottola’s cell phone had a case of water and $200,000 in cash.
The case was tried in front of District Court Judge Hector Gonzalez. A third defendant, Alfred Lopez, was acquitted on all counts. There are currently seven defendants now convicted in this case and are awaiting sentencing. Zittola faces a mandatory life sentence.
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