Following six weeks of trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn today convicted Anthony Zottola, Sr. and Himen Ross of murder-for-hire conspiracy and murder-for-hire in the October 4, 2018 killing of 71-year-old Sylvester Zottola as he waited to pick up a cup of coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru in the Bronx. The jury also found the defendants guilty of causing Sylvester Zottola’s death through the use of a firearm and unlawful use and possession of firearms. They face mandatory life terms when sentenced by United States District Judge Hector Gonzalez. A third defendant, Alfred Lopez, was acquitted on all counts.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the verdict.
“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,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “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. I thank our prosecutors, the FBI Special Agents and NYPD detectives for their tremendous investigative work solving this cold-blooded crime and bringing the defendants to justice.”
“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,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
“Today’s convictions underscore the unwavering commitment of the NYPD, and its law enforcement partners, to deliver meaningful consequences for violent crimes – in this case against those who carried out a sustained plot to commit murder,” stated NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “For their effort to build a strong prosecution, I want to thank and commend our NYPD investigators, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, the New York Field Office of the FBI, and everyone who worked to see this case through to a successful outcome.”
Sylvester Zottola controlled a residential real estate portfolio consisting of multi-family rental properties that was valued at tens of millions of dollars at the time of his death. Defendant Anthony Zottola helped manage his father Sylvester Zottola’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. Anthony Zottola plotted to kill his father and his brother so that he could take control of the family business.
As proven at trial, Anthony Zottola hired co-conspirator Bushawn Shelton to kill his father and his brother, Salvatore. Shelton recruited others to commit the murders, and together they engaged in a year-long conspiracy to carry out a series of violent attacks against Sylvester and Salvatore Zottola. Salvatore, who testified at trial, endured several violent attacks on his life. On November 26, 2017, Sylvester Zottola was menaced at gunpoint by a masked individual. On December 27, 2017, three men invaded Sylvester Zottola’s residence, struck him on the head with a gun, stabbed him multiple times, and slashed his throat. Zottola survived the attack. Then on July 11, 2018, a gunman shot Salvatore Zottola in the head, chest, and hand in front of his residence. Zottola survived the shooting.
A tracking device was placed on Sylvester Zottola’s car, allowing Ross to track him to the McDonald’s restaurant on Webster Avenue where Ross fatally shot the victim multiple times. Ross and Shelton exchanged texts immediately after the hit, and then Shelton and Anthony Zottola exchanged texts, in which Anthony was informed that his father had just been murdered. Shelton texted Anthony Zottola: “Can we party today or tomorrow?” Anthony Zottola assured Shelton that he would have Shelton’s payment for carrying out the murder ready soon: “I have the cases of water in a day or so.” A photograph later recovered from one of Shelton’s cellular telephones depicts a cardboard box of bottled water, as well as over $200,000 in banded currency. Shelton pleaded guilty in August 2022 to murder-for-hire conspiracy and murder-for-hire. He is awaiting sentencing.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Kayla Bensing, Emily J. Dean, Devon Lash, and Andrew Roddin are in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of paralegal Brittany Wissel.
HIMEN ROSS (also known as “Ace” and “A Boggie”)
Bronx, New York
ANTHONY ZOTTOLA, SR.
Larchmont, New York
Defendants Who Previously Pleaded Guilty:
HERMAN BLANCO (also known as “Taliban” and “L”)
Bronx, New York
ARTHUR CODNER (also known as “Feddi,” “Feddi Bossgod,” and “Scary”)
New Hampton, New York
JASON CUMMINGS (also known as “The Hat” and “Stacks”)
Brooklyn, New York
BUSHAWN SHELTON (also known as “Shelz”)
Brooklyn, New York
JULIAN SNIPE (also known as “Biz” and “Bizzzy”)
Bronx, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-609 (S-3)(HG)
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