What to Know
- A 44-year-old man was convicted of plotting to kill his father and brother in an attempt to take over the family’s multi-million dollar real estate empire.
- Anthony Zottola Sr. and a conspirator were convicted Wednesday, following a six week federal trial, of murder-for-hire conspiracy and murder-for-hire in the Oct. 4, 2018 killing of 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx.
- Both face mandatory life terms when sentenced.
A 44-year-old man was convicted of plotting to kill his father and brother in an attempt to take over the family’s multi-million dollar real estate empire.
Anthony Zottola Sr. and Himen Ross, a co-conspirator, were convicted Wednesday, following a six week federal trial, of murder-for-hire conspiracy and murder-for-hire in the Oct. 4, 2018 killing of 71-year- old Sylvester Zottola at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx.
Both face mandatory life terms when sentenced.
Sylvester Zottola was shot several times in the head and body at the fast-food restaurant on Webster Avenue in what police initially described at the time as a possible mob hit.
Sylvester Zottola had been arrested in June after allegedly shooting a man who pulled a gun on him outside of his home, law enforcement sources previously said. About a month later, his son, 41-year-old Salvatore Zottola, was attacked by a gunman outside his home in Throgs Neck in July.
According to prosecutors, Sylvester Zottola controlled a residential real estate portfolio valued at tens of millions of dollars at the time of his death. His son Anthony Zottola helped manage his father’s real estate business by maintaining the properties, collecting rent, and helping to run A&S Maintenance, a company that was jointly owned by Anthony and his brother Salvatore Zottola.
Prosecutors said that Anthony Zottola plotted to kill his father and his brother so that he could take control of the family business and hired a co-conspirator, Bushawn Shelton, to kill his father and his brother.
Shelton recruited others to commit the murders, and together they engaged in conspiracy to carry out a series of violent attacks against Sylvester and Salvatore Zottola over the course of a year.
Salvatore, who testified at trial, endured several violent attacks on his life: on Nov. 26, 2017, he was menaced at gunpoint by a masked individual; on Dec. 27, 2017, three men entered his residence, gun whipped him in the head, stabbed him multiple times, and slashed his throat — a vicious attack he survived; on July 11, 2018, he was shot in the head, chest, and hand outside his residence — also surviving the shooting.
“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. He and the others he recruited chose to continue with their savage plot and succeeded. Now, instead of living off his father’s millions, his only payday will be federal prison,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said.
A tracking device was eventually placed on Sylvester Zottola’s car, allowing Ross to track him to the McDonald’s on Webster Avenue where Ross fatally shot the victim multiple times.
Prosecutors said that Ross and Shelton exchanged texts immediately after the killing, and then Shelton and Anthony Zottola exchanged texts, in which Anthony was informed that his father had just been murdered.
Shelton, who allegedly had ties to the Blood gangpleaded guilty in August 2022 to murder-for-hire conspiracy and murder-for-hire. He is awaiting sentencing.
“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,” US Attorney for the District of New York Breon Peace said. “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.”