The son of slain New York mob associate Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola was convicted Wednesday of the murder-for-hire plot of his father, and an attempted hit on his brother.
A jury in Brooklyn federal court returned the guilty verdicts for Anthony Zottola and his two co-defendants — gunman Himan Ross and getaway driver Alfred Lopez — in the 2018 slaying at a Bronx McDonald’s drive-through.
Prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York, over the course of a trial that spanned more than a month, revealed a detailed conspiracy between Anthony and Bloods gang leader Bushawn Shelton to carry out a series of attacks on his dad and brother, Salvatore Zottola.
In more than 1,000 text messages entered into evidence by prosecutors, Anthony and Shelton — who pleaded guilty prior to the trial — spoke in coded terms about the murder attempts.
At the direction of Anthony to kill his father, Shelton hired Ross and Lopez to finish the job after another hired gun tried – and failed – at least six times to take out Sylvester and Salvatore.
In the minutes after Ross and Lopez successfully gunned down Sylvester in a Bronx McDonald’s drive-thru on Oct. 4, 2018, Anthony joked about the slaying in a series of texts to Shelton, prosecutors charged in their opening statement.
“Can we party today or tomorrow,” Shelton texted the younger Zottola after the hit.
“Tomorrow. It’s my little man’s bday. I’m taking him to his favorite place, McDonald’s. Then to a movie. LOL like I eat that stuff,” Anthony replied.
The Bloods member texted back that it was like Anthony’s “birthday” that day, Assistant US Attorney Devon Lash said.
Anthony allegedly ordered up the hit in a bid to take over his father’s $45 million real estate empire in the borough, prosecutors charged.
To prove the conspiracy, prosecutors called a parade of witnesses during the case, including Salvatore, who testified under immunity, and cooperating witness who told jurors he was hired by Shelton to carry out hits on Anthony’s brother and father.
On the stand, the hired gun, Ron Cabey, described at least six botched attempts to rub out Salvatore and Sylvester, a reputed associate of the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families.
In one attempt, Cabey approached Sylvester on the street near one of the aging mobster’s properties in the Bronx and ran off after the real estate kingpin pulled a pistol and fired at him.
Cabey was arrested later that day in a Manhattan taxi depot after bailing out of a car he was riding in that was being pursued by NYPD officers.
Anthony’s attorneys tried to paint the elder Zottola as a Bronx underworld figure who may have been gunned down because of his ties to organized crime.
In his closing argument, Anthony’s attorney Henry Mazurek claimed to jurors the hit could’ve been the work of Albanian gangsters in the Bronx who were trying to claim a piece of the illegal gambling machine racket that Sylvester helmed.
“Sylvester Zottola knew his whole life could one day come home to roost,” Mazurek told jurors, adding that other mobsters saw the opportunity to score cash by elbowing in on the racket.
“Gangsters smell cash and they go after it,” he said.
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