The car riddled with bullet holes that was driven by reputed mob associate Sylvester Zottola when he was fatally shot at a McDonald's.
A wiseguy’s son paid more than $200,000 to have his dad whacked in a McDonald’s drive-thru
in The Bronx — and also ordered a botched hit on his own brother, federal authorities in Brooklyn said Tuesday.
Anthony Zottola Sr. , 41, potentially faces a death sentence for the alleged patricide of reputed Bonanno crime family associate Sylvester “Sally Daz” Zottola, 71, who was gunned down while waiting for a take-out cup of coffee last year.
Anthony’s stunning indictment followed the arrests of several reputed Bloods street gang members, including ex-con Bushawn “Shelz” Shelton, who Anthony is accused of hiring to organize the Oct. 4 rub-out.
Court papers say that Anthony began scheming against his dad more than a year before the assassination, which capped a “series of violent attacks and attempts on his life” and that of Anthony’s older brother.
Salvatore Zottola, 42, was shot and critically wounded outside the family’s sprawling waterfront compound in Locust Point on July 11, during what the feds have previously described as an attempt to “lure out” his dad.
Anthony was charged with murder-for-hire conspiracy, unlawful use and possession of firearms and causing death through use of a firearm.
Prosecutors allege that text messages Anthony sent Shelton, 35, are proof of his “position at the helm of this sinister plot.”
One particularly chilling text shows the two men communicating in movie-style code on Nov. 26, 2017, about 45 minutes after Sylvester narrowly escaped death when his car was forced over by a dark van and a man in a mask got out and pointed a gun at him, the feds said.
Authorities later found the van, with the mask inside, and used DNA testing to tie it to Shelton, court papers say.
In one message, Shelton wrote, “The star stormed off the set and I think it spooked him,” prompting Anthony to allegedly write back, “That is why we need to get to the final secen (sic) before The star doesn’t come back,” the feds said.
“I need this bad…because I can see the film taking a twist,” Anthony allegedly added.
“Today was supposed to be the end until the actor wanted to do his own stunts and throw it in reverse in the middle of shooting a scene and drive in the opposite direction,” Shelton allegedly wrote.
“Ok. But we can still do the end I hope,” Anthony allegedly replied.
Prosecutors didn’t reveal a motive but law-enforcement sources said Anthony wanted control of his dad’s illegal gambling operation, which involved “Joker Poker” video games.
“It looks like it was over the family business — the Joker Poker machines — and the son was looking to take over,” a source said.
A source also described Sally Daz as “a stubborn old guy who wouldn’t give up his business.”
Before zeroing in on Anthony, investigators suspected that the old man had been targeted by rival Albanian gangsters.
Sources said Sylvester Zottola was formerly associated with Bonanno boss Vincent “Vinny Gorgeous” Basciano, who’s serving a life sentence for the 2004 murder of renegade underling Randolph Pizzolo.
Following Basciano’s 2011 conviction, sources said, Sylvester began reporting to acting Bonanno boss Joseph “Joe C” Cammarano, who beat the rap in an extortion and racketeering case earlier this year.
Neither Anthony nor Salvatore Zottola are known to have mob ties, and they’re believed to have been “just living off the father,” a source said.
Cammarano’s acquittal came after a defense lawyer memorably told jurors not to convict him just for looking like he “stepped out of a central casting in a mob movie.”
Salvatore Zottola was among the spectators who watched as Anthony, and accused accomplices Jason “Stacks” Cummings, 31, Alfred “Aloe” Lopez, 36 and Julian “Bizzy” Snipe, 32, pleaded not guilty.
A neighbour in Locust Point expressed shock over Zottola’s arrest and likened it to a classic mob movie.
“I know it happened in ‘Godfather II’, but I still don’t believe it,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “I never liked that part where he had his brother shot in the boat.”
Sylvester was killed inside an Acura SUV that was boxed in by other vehicles outside the McDonald’s at Webster Avenue and Belmont Street.
Court papers say the shooter, who wore a hooded sweatshirt, opened fire through one of the SUV’s windows, then hopped into a waiting car driven by Lopez.
Evidence tying Anthony to the slaying includes communications with Shelton before and after the hit, with Anthony sending a coded text assuring payment that said “I have the cases of water in a day or so.”
A photo shot a day after the hit and recovered from one of Shelton’s cell phones shows “a cardboard box of bottled water, as well as over $200,000 in banded currency,” court papers say.
Two days later, Anthony sent Shelton a text that said, “All good. Did you drink the water. Was it the right one.”
“Definitely was the right one thanks I was able to water the plants and get some of them squared away,” Shelton said.
Anthony’s wife burst into sobs as Judge Roanne Mann refused to release him on their Larchmont home, saying: “He was not the one who fired the weapon but he was the one who called the shots.”
Zottola wiped away tears as he was led out of the courtroom and the brother he’s accused of trying to have whacked broke down in sobs in the hallway.
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