The son of a Bronx mobster who ordered his dad rubbed out in a heartless bid to seize his $45 million real estate empire was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in Brooklyn federal court Friday.
United States District Judge Hector Gonzalez handed down two life sentences to Anthony Zottola, 45, for a greedy murder-for-hire and conspiracy plot that killed 71-year-old Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola in a hail of bullets in October 2018.
“Why? Anthony, my brother, why? What did you do? Dad gave you everything,” Zottola’s brother, Salvatore, said during a victim impact statement in court.
“What you did to me and dad is unimaginable.”
Zottola hired hitman Himen Ross, 36, to gun down his father in a Bronx McDonald’s drive-through in a scheme to take control of his more than 90 properties, according to prosecutors.
The hit came after six failed attempts to take out the Bonanno crime family associate over roughly a year, along with Salvatore, who escaped a gun attack alive.
On Friday, Judge Gonzalez tore into Zottola for the money-hungry crime and failing to show remorse.
“He subjected his family to a reign of terror,” Gonzalez said. “I see greed and money as one of the core reasons why this heinous crime was committed.”
Zottola, who burst into tears at the hearing, was also sentenced to additional 112 years behind bars for weapons charges.
Ross was also sentenced Friday to mandatory life in prison as devastated family members of the dead mobster packed the courtroom.
“You were the man that shot my father, my lifeline, and murdered him in cold blood in his car,” Debbie Zottola told Ross in court before the sentencing.
“You killed me, you killed his grandchildren, especially my two sons who were old enough to understand every single thing that was happening.”
She said her dad “had to live in fear” as he was hunted down by assassins and that “the last year of his life was pure torture.”
During Zottola’s six-week trial, prosecutors said he hatched the assassination plan with the help of bumbling Bloods gang leader Bushawn Shelton, with whom he exchanged hundreds of coded text messages about the slaying.
The hit came after six failed attempts to take out the mobster over nearly a year, along with his elder son, Salvatore, who escaped alive.
Sally Daz was an associate of the Bonanno crime family, one of the so-called “Five Families” that control organized crime in New York City.
His work for the mob included collecting money from illegal “Joker Poker” gambling machines at bars and “number holes” in the Bronx — and paying Bonanno boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano and Lucchese family mobster protection money, Salvatore Zottola testified during the trial.
Over decades, he invested the cash he made running the gambling machines into building a lucrative real estate fortune that his son desperately wanted, according to prosecutors.
“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,” Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Friday.
“For sentencing his father to a violent death, Anthony Zottola and his co-defendant will spend the rest of their lives in prison.”Zottola and Ross were both convicted of murder-for-hire, conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and firearms offenses.
On Friday, Zatolla’s lawyer, Ilana Haramati, asked for leniency, calling him a family man in poor health.
“A life sentence bears a really awful finality,” Haramati said. “He just wants to continue to be a source of support to his children as much as he can.”
Shelton pleaded guilty before the trial.
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