The son of a reputed mobster has been charged for his alleged role in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his father and brother with the help of Bloods gang members, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Anthony Zottola Sr., 41, was among four new suspects arrested and charged with conspiring to commit a murder-for-hire in connection with the death of 73-year-old Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola, who was shot in his car on October 4 as he waited for coffee at a Bronx McDonald’s, authorities said. Zottola Sr.’s brother, Salvatore, was also shot outside his Bronx home by an unknown suspect in a dark-colored Nissan sedan in July but survived.
“As alleged, Zottola Sr. set in motion a deadly plot to kill his father and brother, with Bloods gang members carrying out extreme acts of violence to collect a payoff for the hits,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement announcing the charges.
In November, authorities arrested five suspects in the shootings. The superseding indictment on Tuesday named four other suspects: Zottola Sr., 31-year-old Jason Cummings, 36-year-old Alfred Lopez, and 32-year-old Julian Snipe. All four were arrested Monday night and Tuesday morning. A fifth new suspect, Brenden Peterson, is currently a “fugitive,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors allege that Zottola Sr. hired Bushawn Shelton, a member of the Bloods street gang, “to carry out the murders of his father and his brother in a series of shootings.” Shelton then recruited at least 10 other alleged gang members to commit the murders, the indictment filed in Brooklyn federal court said.
In text messages between Shelton and Zotolla Sr., the pair referred to the murders as “filming” a movie, with the “final scene” being the 73-year-old mobster’s death, prosecutors alleged.
The plot included a series of “violent attacks” on the father and son, authorities said, including the July 11 attack on Salvatore Zotolla. According to the indictment, Zottola was shot multiple times in the “head, chest, and hand” in front of his house but survived.
“There is apparently no love lost between Mr. Zottola and his family members, so much so he allegedly hired members of the Bloods gang to kill his brother and father,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney said Tuesday. “After several botched attempts on both mens’ lives, sadly his father did not survive the last attack.”
In October, as previously reported by The Daily Beast, Zottola was waiting for a medium coffee in a McDonald’s drive-thru line on Webster Avenue when a man in a dark hoodie came up to his SUV with a pistol in his hand.
The 73-year-old was fatally shot five times in the head and chest by the hitman, the indictment alleges. The gunman fled through the fence alongside the drive-thru lane.
When authorities arrived, they pronounced Zottola dead at the scene. Prosecutors allege the successful hit came after multiple assassination attempts, including one incident in which Zottola was stabbed in his home after walking in on three burglars.
Shortly after the elder Zottola’s death, Shelton allegedly texted Zottola Sr. “done” before asking if the duo could “party today or tomorrow.”
“I have the cases of water in a day or so,” Zottola Sr. allegedly responded, after agreeing to meet the following day and assuring Shelton that he would pay him soon. A picture recovered from one of Shelton’s cellphones shows $200,000 alongside a cardboard box full of bottled water, prosecutors said.
Federal prosecutors declined to provide a motive behind the two shootings.
“I will do my part to never let my brother or my sister or my mother down, or especially you,” Zottola Sr. said at his father’s memorial at the Church of St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus in Pelham Bay. Nearly 300 people attended the October service.