Leave the Gun, Take the Big Mac
The duplicitous son of a reputed Bronx mobster was sentenced Friday to die behind bars after orchestrating his father’s execution in a 2018 murder-for-hire plot as the victim sat helplessly in a McDonald’s drive-thru.
Anthony Zottola, 45, was involved in multiple attempts to whack his dad, Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola, a Bonnano family associate who created a real estate empire worth tens of millions of dollars that his greedy son hoped to seize, authorities said.
Family patriarch Zottola died in a fusillade of bullets while behind the wheel of his car in the fast food drive-thru as he waited for a cup of coffee on Oct. 24, 2018. The conspirators placed a tracking device on Zottola’s vehicle, allowing Ross to stalk his target on the day of the killing.
“Over the course of more than a year, the elderly victim, Sylvester Zottola, was stalked, beaten and stabbed, never knowing who orchestrated the attacks,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace. “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.”
Detectives said Sylvester, known as Sally Daz, made a fortune off joker poker machines and invested that money into a multimillion dollar real estate portfolio.
“It’s a lot of money for a street guy,” said retired NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
“He was good friend with Vincent Basciano,” said Boyce. “Sylvester was an associate, he wasn’t made.”
Another failed hit-job
In making their case, prosecutors outlined a broad conspiracy that included a “network of hit men” hired by Bushawn Shelton, described by the authorities as a high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang. At times, according to testimony and evidence, the hit men resembled the hapless criminals in Jimmy Breslin’s 1969 novel “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”
Hired hit-man Bushawn Shelton, high ranking Bloods member
A tan minivan they employed as a getaway car often would not start, and a getaway driver parked on a quiet street near Salvatore Zottola’s home once infuriated Mr. Shelton by smoking marijuana the gang leader believed might signal their presence.
There were several unsuccessful attempts to kill Sylvester Zottola. Someone tried to shoot him as he drove on the Throgs Neck Expressway, prosecutors said, but he escaped by driving in reverse. Later, men lurking inside his home stabbed him in the neck. Another time, an assailant broke into the Zottola family office with a gun with the goal of killing Mr. Zottola but fled after he accidentally tripped a panic alarm.
One hired killer, Ron Cabey, testifying as a government witness, described how he strode up to Sylvester Zottola on a Bronx street in summer 2018, pointed a pistol at him and pulled the trigger, only for the weapon to misfire. Mr. Cabey said Mr. Zottola began firing at him as he fled.